*The Texans invited fans to submit their best Texans stories for a chance to be featured on the team's 2011 season tickets in the “Your Story, Your Glory” contest. *
Selected to be on the ticket for the Week 9 Salute to the Military game presented by Bud Light against the Cleveland Browns was Roger Lazarin, a former Army Specialist from Spring, Texas. This is his story:
"My very first Texans game was the very first home game against the Dallas Cowboys, which the Texans won. Ever since then, I have loved the Texans. I have been to every single Texans game. There was a two-year period where I had to miss two seasons because I was overseas doing a tour in Iraq for the Army, but even overseas, every chance I'd get, I was either looking up the Texans game online or I would catch it on a television station that might be showing the game.
"I was in the Army for six years, and I did a two-year tour out in Iraq from 2004-05. When you're out there, it's really hard to watch regular TV. There's no such thing as CBS or FOX or anything like that where you could just sit down and watch the game. There's a very limited amount of TV you can actually watch over there. So whenever they actually show a game, it's usually around 2-3 o'clock in the morning. If you're a diehard fan like me, you have to get up that early just to catch a game and watch it.
"If you can't catch the game or if they're not showing the game, then you have to find any means necessary to find out what's going on. You have to look it up on the internet, which you don't have much time to do. You only get like 15 minutes at a time on the internet, so it's either from family letters, the internet or getting up way early in the morning.
"Once I came home, I immediately got season tickets, and I've been to every single game since. My Sunday morning ritual is that I always wear the color jersey that the team is wearing for that particular day. I make sure I get online, and whatever they're wearing, that's what I'm wearing. I do not deviate from that plan whatsoever.
"I get the whole family together for games. My brother, my dad, all my nieces, nephews, my kids, we all get together and party over at the Maroon Lot. We set up a couple of tents and we get a barbeque going; a buddy of mine always makes the best barbeque in the world. We sit there and we just have fun until the game's about to start, then we head up to our seats and we watch the game.
"My seats are in Gridiron, Texas. For me, the Gridiron section is where the best hardcore fans are for the Houston Texans, for the simple reason that when you're up in those stands, you're around the most electrifying people there are. When something big happens in the game, everybody gets excited. We're all up on our feet. We're all yelling, screaming. We pretty much stay on our feet for the whole entire game until we're hoarse by the end of the day.
"I definitely think the fans are the homefield advantage. I believe us cheering for our team gives them the motivation to make a really good play or to help the defense out where the opposing offense will make a bad call or jump, and I definitely believe that with our support, they do better. I would definitely not be home and watching a game unless the Texans are out of town. It is definitely better to be at Reliant Stadium. The atmosphere alone is better than anything I've ever experienced in my life. There's times when I've wanted to cry; there's times when you're just jumping in excitement and yelling. The experience to see it right there live, right in front of you, is worth more than anything I could even imagine.
"I truly believe that the NFL does care about the armed forces. I've seen coaches, players, even cheerleaders go overseas and help to kind of boost morale for military soldiers, and I believe that it really does work. When you're away from your family so long, you can kind of get out of touch with what's going on in the U.S., but whenever you see somebody that you recognize, someone that you know, someone that you've seen on a weekly basis, then that kind of helps bring up your spirits. You're like, 'This is why I'm here. This is what I'm doing. I'm doing this so that people at home can enjoy a football game.'
"The best thing I like about the Houston Texans' military appreciation day is that they really go out of their way to show what the military means to the team. With the fly-bys or actually pointing out service members that have been overseas, fighting in wars, just recognizing them and the accomplishments that they've done, they really show their love for the military.
"This is definitely a humongous honor to be on one of the season tickets for the Houston Texans. I never thought in a million years that I would get a chance. Being on the ticket for the Salute to the Military game, that's a humongous honor for me as well. Serving in the Army for so many years and having several of my friends in the military still – they're still doing tours overseas, and to kind of represent them and everybody in the military for this particular day, I can't describe how it makes me feel."