During Thursday's OTA session, I was talking to one of my favorite people in the Texans organization. Evan Koch, who works in media relations with the team, perked up when I mentioned one of the Texans' defensive players and how well I thought he was doing.
Evan, having spent many hours with the guys on this team, said: "Do you know his story?"
It's one of the aspects of all people that I love to know but I didn't know this particular player's journey to Houston. As Evan recounted his trek, I was floored by it and it instantly made me more of this player's cheerleader, if you will, than I had been prior to our discussion.
For the next few minutes, I thought about the road taken by so many of these Texans. Some we know well, like J.J. Watt's rags to pizza boy to riches story, but some we don't. Sure, some players in all organizations have never dealt with any sort of adversity or have just followed a fairly clear path for themselves over their careers. But hearing this story, combined with the success of his family members that all fought through a similar upbringing, made me realize what this sport, good community, family love and devotion can eventually produce.
Just hearing that Texan's background would've been enough and by the time some players walked into the media workroom for some Q & A, my mind went right back to football.
Then, safety Kendrick Lewis walked in.
For those that don't know, Lewis signed in Houston this offseason and played for Romeo Crennel in Kansas City after playing his college ball at Ole Miss.
I followed him during his college career there and was pleased that he was in Houston to provide a veteran influence in the secondary. After the first OTA session, Lewis' presence was requested by one of the media members and he arrived in the workroom for Q & A time.
During that period, I typically float from one player to the next, just to pick up any nugget I can. Now, the players have been well-schooled in the ways of "we're a team" and "it's going great" and Lewis is no exception. But, he was extremely forthcoming in his answers to just about everything that didn't pertain to football.
Lewis walked in Thursday at the same time Duane Brown and Ryan Griffin were holding court in the room. I suppose because Lewis isn't as well known and had already talked earlier last week, the crowd around him wasn't at big as No. 76's crowd. In fact, I used a forearm shiver on one of the camera guys as he sprinted for Duane's spot. Regardless, I don't ask any questions to be honest, not in this setting, but I actually had a couple for him yesterday that had been on my mind since his first visit. Purely football.
I'm glad I never got to ask them because someone asked him "Why Houston? Why was THIS the place for you?"
He initially talked about playing for Romeo Crennel but then said something about being from New Orleans and that Houston was close to his home. Then, without prompting, he said that he had even spent some time in Houston due to Hurricane Katrina. From there, his story was amazing to hear.
The Texans practiced Thursday morning as part of their OTAs.
He didn't go into minute detail, but he talked about his home and area around his home being completely under water. By that time that the levees broke, he and his family members headed west to Houston and he was here watching and listening to the news as his neighborhood was shown completely submerged.
I'm not 100% sure whether the re-telling of his, and his family's, travails was cathartic or not but he answered every single question as it pertained to such a harrowing experience with class and a matter of fact, don't-feel-sorry-for-me attitude. Thousands experienced Hurricane Katrina and have a similar story to tell, but when you hear that story from a citizen that lived it, it's gut-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time.
I'm not the only media member to write about Lewis discussing his Katrina experience. But, having listened to it two feet away from him, it was difficult not to, honestly. Luckily it fell right in line with my thoughts about this organization's story and the individuals that make it up.
How did it get to be? How did each individual player get here? How will he stay here? How will he be successful here?
The 2014 Houston Texans story has been shaped by what's happened over these past few weeks of OTA and mini-camps, but what makes this year special is the men that'll write this team's pages.