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Houston Texans

Cheerleader of the Week: Erika


Texans Cheerleader of the Week Erika says that friends have told her she looks like Shannon Elizabeth or Jessica Alba – comparisons Erika humbly insists she doesn't see. But her teammates might beg to differ.

"Erika is absolutely gorgeous," Ashley says. "She reminds me of a model because she's got that height on her – long legs to die for."

"Erika, when I think of her, is someone very tall, very model-esque," Kristen says.

Third-year veteran Vanessa agrees, even going so far as to say that Erika's height and vivacity should make her "America's Next Top Model."

It's just these attributes that impress cheerleader services manager Alto Gary.

"I am a sucker for long legs, and then (Erika) puts the boots on, so she's even taller," Gary says. "She's one of those girls I'd say that's larger than life, and what I like my squad to be is when they walk out to the crowd that they are larger than life and people take notice of them."

And while grabbing peoples' attention isn't ever a problem for Erika, who teammates describe as one of the more playful and quirky girls on the team, you're just as likely to find this fourth-year Texans Cheerleaders veteran running a Humane Society as you are to see her on a runway.

{QUOTE}Erika says that a dream of hers is to one day work with animals in some capacity. It turns out, however, that she already has enough animals living in her downtown loft that she may already be able to add the title of "zookeeper" to her resume. Erika has five pets: two cats, Napoleon and Whiskey; two turtles, Stop and Go; and one puppy, Coco Martini Tanner, a half-sheltie half-poodle.

"The people that know me know that I am a really big animal lover," she says.

"I know it sounds really cheesy – I treat them like they're my children. But they really are."

That motherly concern for her pets is apparent. When Erika first got her turtles, she frequently stayed awake in the long hours of the night to make sure they were okay because, "they were so tiny and one of them had swollen eyes, and I knew that wasn't a good sign." Erika has nicknames for her cats, calling Whiskey her "Little Doogie Howser" because of his inquisitive nature. And she speaks glowingly of her puppy.

"I absolutely love having her," Erika says. "She's my little protector. Anytime I'm here home alone, if anything doesn't seem right she'll immediately start barking. So she protects her mama."

And while Erika loves supervising what she calls a "wild kingdom" in her loft, it doesn't come without its hardships. Once, when Erika was taking only a 10-minute nap, a pair of her favorite sandals fell victim to Coco's jaws.

"I was not happy," she says. "How can anything tear up a sandal in 10 minutes? That's just not right. So I was not happy with her. That's when she heard her full name, 'Coco Martini Tanner.' She got in a lot of trouble for that."

There's a reason that incident was no passing matter for Erika. If there's anything she possibly loves more than animals, it's shoes.

"I have a really, really huge shoe fetish," Erika says. "I don't know why, (but) I love shoes. I can't stay away from buying shoes online."

Erika shops for shoes on a website that she says provides great deals and overnight shipping. But don't bother asking her for the web address – it's a secret which few are privileged to discover.

"Alto's in on the secret, Samantha's in on the secret, some girls on the team that are ready to know the website know the secret," she says. "But I can't give it out, so I'm sorry. But trust me, this is why I'm such a shoe fanatic, because of this website. I love 'em!"

"It's the best thing ever," Gary says. "I will never shop at another shoe store ever again. I can't (reveal) the website because then they'll buy all my shoes. Sorry!"

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