General manager Rick Smith is known as a skilled negotiator and purveyor of talent. This past Saturday, Smith proved that those skills aren't limited to his interactions with football players and their agents.
During the Texans' final open practice of 2008 training camp, per Eric J. Solis of the Battle Red Blog, "Rick Smith handed out a contract with a fantastic set of incentives and better yet, it has no bearing on the salary cap."
As the story goes, Smith noticed a young boy named Donovan watching practice with his parents from behind a fence in the end zone. With Donovan's parents' permission, Smith picked Donovan up over the fence and took him on to the field for a closer look at practice. As Solis writes:
"There they stood on the sideline, two friends watching their favorite team. Close enough to hear the calls of the offense and see the quickness in the defense, the boy looked in awe as the players collided after every snap.
"After nearly fifteen minutes, and with camp soon to conclude, Rick Smith walked Donovan back to his parents. After a handshake, he proceeded to share with Donovan's parents, as well as everyone in earshot, portions of the conversation he had with their son.
"He said they spoke about the amazing catch they had just seen and how much they liked the team. Rick Smith said that he asked the boy if he had ever been to a game, and Donovan told him no.
"That's when Rick Smith negotiated one of his finest contracts to date.
"He told Donovan's parents that he and their son made a 'pact'. And the terms of their agreement where as follows: If Donovan did well in school, and his report card showed that he was making good grades, then Rick Smith would provide tickets so that his parents they bring Donovan to a game this season."
With no other media in sight, it's a demonstration of pure class on the part of Smith. Our thanks to Solis for being there to catch this wonderful story as it unfolded.