When training camp grows near, I can't help but get excited. I'll never take it for granted and even though it's 1,000 degrees on the surface of the sun, it's my favorite time of year. Once training camp kicks off, the season is right around the corner and who doesn't want those Sundays in NRG Stadium to be here yesterday? Hope abounds, right?
This will be my ninth NFL training camp and every single time that I get in my car to drive over to the Methodist Training Center for the first workout, I can't help but think back to the very first time I went to training camp here in Houston.
I had just returned to Houston to help start a new local radio station. Current Sports Radio 610 Triple Threat star Sean Pendergast and I teamed up in the afternoons, well, that was the plan in about three weeks. Sean, like me, had never been to practice either, but we knew that we wanted to be plugged in from day one. Let's make a good impression on everyone there, show up for everything, the whole nine yards. We hadn't even been on the air, so no one really knew who we were so we thought this was a satisfactory way to make a strong impression.
We had been preparing for our first show together for a few weeks but we knew that the Texans training camp would give us plenty of ammunition for our first few shows. So, the Friday before training camp opened, we talked about driving over to practice together. Like this Saturday's practice, this one was going to be at 8 am. Now, both of us had lived in Houston, so we knew that being stuck in traffic was a cardinal sin, especially on the first day of training camp.
Of course, the two of us failed to think that it was on Saturday and not a weekday.
Mistake No. 1.
We planned to make sure we got there in plenty of time so we could figure out where to go and all that. Eventually, we decided that we'd meet at 6:15 am at our station and carpool over to the Teal lot. Expecting a rush of traffic, we figured we'd roll in about 7:25 or 7:30 or so. Ummm, not so much.
There was no traffic and we made the ten minute ride in eight minutes. We then went to turn into the Teal lot where everyone told us to go and there's no one there.
Not a soul. Anywhere.
No security. No Texans employees. No cars. No. One.
It was like Clark Griswold and his family heading to Wallyworld in the movie Vacation. The parking lot was wide open so we discussed where to go and we didn't want to seem so eager so we drove all the way over near Kirby Drive, eschewing the best spot by the gate, in the shade, seemingly a full parking lot away.
Mistake No. 2.
Finally we settled in a spot and I can only imagine what people thought when they drove in and saw us all the way over there. But, we were there, that's all that mattered until we realized that practice didn't start for 90 minutes! We looked at each other like what do we do for the next hour and thirty minutes?
At some point, we sort of dozed off and then…
Scared half to death, we snapped to as this F-350 truck pulled up next to us, because, well, we were THE only car in the lot, so why not, right?
"YOU GUYS HERE TO BUILD THE GOALPOSTS?"
Yeah, that was us. Mario and Luigi, the goal post builders. I mean, it made sense - who the heck else would be in the parking lot an hour plus before practice and NOT be there to build goal posts?
When we finally realized what he was asking, we quickly said no and rolled up the windows so we didn't get roped into building goal posts with these guys. I think the guy was actually sad when we said no.
Perhaps that's mistake No. 3 - when would I EVER have a chance to build goal posts again.
The two of us learned our lesson, that's for sure. I can't speak for Sean, but I'll show up Saturday around 7:30, walk right past that spot and chuckle about that moment eight years ago.
Then, I'll make sure the goal posts were built properly.
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