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MCCOB Gridiron Legends class of 2011 announced

HOUSTON – The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Committee has selected the 2011 class of Gridiron Legends presented by Wrangler Jeans and Cavender's Boot City, the Bowl announced today.

The class of 2011 is headlined by Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips.  Joining McNair and Phillips as Gridiron Legends are former Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini, former Oklahoma and Port Arthur running back Joe Washington and former Katy High School head coach Mike Johnston.

The Gridiron Legends presented by Wrangler Jeans and Cavender's Boot City are all individuals who made a significant contribution to the game of football in the state of Texas, either at the high school, collegiate or professional level.

"This year's class of Gridiron Legends holds particularly special meaning to all of us, with the inclusion of Bob McNair and Bum Phillips," said Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas executive director Heather Houston.  "Mr. McNair not only brought the NFL back to Houston, he saved this bowl as well.  Coach Phillips is probably the most beloved figure in Houston football history.  When you add in men like Dan Pastorini, Joe Washington and Mike Johnston, this class is a who's who of Houston football history."

Born in Tampa, Florida, McNair and his wife, Janice Suber McNair, have been residents of Houston since 1960.  McNair formed Houston NFL Holdings in 1998 with a commitment to bringing a National Football League team to Houston.  On October 6, 1999, the NFL announced that the 32nd NFL franchise had been awarded to McNair, returning football to the city of Houston in 2002.  As Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Texas Bowl, McNair revived Houston's collegiate bowl game on December 28, 2006.   McNair selected DePelchin Children's Center as the charity beneficiary of the bowl in 2006.  DePelchin has been awarded nearly $400,000 and received more than $5,000,000 in promotional value over the past five years.

Phillips has personified football in Houston for more than three decades and spent the vast majority of his playing and coaching career in Houston and Southeast Texas.  A native of Orange, he played at Lamar and Stephen F. Austin before going into coaching.  His career on the sidelines took him through the high school and college ranks before he returned to Houston as the Oilers' defensive coordinator in 1974.  He took over as head coach the following year and went on to lead the Oilers to a 59-38 record over six years, including two consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game in 1978 and '79.  Phillips coached the New Orleans Saints from 1981-85 before retiring from coaching.  His son, Wade, is one of the most successful defensive coaches in NFL history and like his father, returned to Houston this year as the Texans' defensive coordinator.

Pastorini came to Houston as the third overall pick of the 1971 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers and over the following nine seasons, he passed for 16,864 yards and 96 touchdowns.  Pastorini was the quarterback during the height of the Oilers' 'Luv Ya Blue' era and led Houston to the AFC Championship Game in 1978 and again in 1979.  Following his playing career, Pastorini became a professional driver and won several NHRA races in the 1980s.  He currently lives in Houston.

Despite being small in stature at five-foot-nine and a mere 179 pounds, Port Arthur native Joe Washington used his remarkable speed and quickness to run for over 4,000 yards at Oklahoma, where he was a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist.  He was drafted fourth overall in 1976 by the San Diego Chargers, but he had his greatest success with the Washington Redskins from 1981-84, when he gained 3,294 yards from scrimmage and scored 16 touchdowns.  He was a member of the Redskins' Super Bowl XVII-winning team and was named one of the 70 greatest Redskins of all time in 2002 in honor of the club's 70th anniversary.  Washington was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Johnston become the first high school coach to be inducted as a Gridiron Legend.  As head coach of Katy High School, he led the Tigers to more than 200 victories and 13 district championships.  Under Johnston, Katy became a powerhouse at the 5A level and capture three state titles - in 1997, 2000 and 2003.  Johnston led his teams to undefeated regular seasons in 1998 and 2000, with the 2000 team finishing a perfect 16-0.  Johnston was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Hall of Honor in 2007.

The 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas will feature teams from the Big 12 and Big Ten conferences and will kick off at 11:00 a.m. CST Saturday, December 31 and will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas holds the fifth choice among non-BCS bowls in each conference.

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