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Houston Texans

O-line serves up burgers, laughs at Prince's


Tackle Eric Winston said he had a hard time pushing the register buttons with his massive fingers.

On Tuesday afternoon, the always-entertaining Houston Texans offensive linemen welcomed Prince's Hamburgers to the Texans' family of Reliant Stadium food providers in festive fashion.

The starting front five of Ephraim Salaam, Chester Pitts, Steve McKinney, Fred Weary and Eric Winston arrived at Prince's Southwest Freeway location to serve burgers, fries and shakes to Texans fans and Prince's patrons. For nearly an hour, they stood behind the counter in Prince's t-shirts and hats, taking orders, working the cash register and announcing ready orders over the restaurant's PA system.

Afterward, the players sampled five different Prince's original burger concoctions to decide which was their favorite. They agreed upon the Pepperjack Bacon Cheddar Burger, which will now be re-named in their honor.

"That's a very popular one," Prince's owner John K. Broussard said. "We do that about once a week now as one of popular daily specials. We'll put it on the menu now, and I guess we'll have to come up with a catchy name for the offensive line."

There were many factors working in the burger's favor, according to McKinney.

"It's very good," McKinney said. "It's very nice on the palate. The meat seems to be Grade-A. Pepperjack bacon and cheese, onions. It's just a good all-around burger, I think. Fun for the whole family."

But absent from the decision-making process was the offensive line's arguably most outspoken member, Salaam. The 6-7, 300-pound lineman was too busy keeping customers happy to sample the burgers and couldn't get to them before his teammates had finished them all.

"We try to leave Ephraim out of as many things as possible," Winston said.

{QUOTE}But Salaam didn't feel left out in the least. He was too focused on setting a hard-working example for his fellow linemen.

"I try to lead them in the right direction," he said. "Behind the counter, on the field, same thing.

"You see they devoured all of the food over here. The only way I could have had some of it was if I could have had some off of Chester (Pitts)' fingers, so I didn't get a chance to get a piece of it. But I had to take their word for it."

His teammates were quite impressed with Salaam's display of hard work.

"Look at him, dude," McKinney said. "We're all sitting here trying to judge, this guy's delivering food. Look how serious he is about that tray. You'd think he's getting paid to work here today, the way he's acting."

But monetary compensation was of no importance to Salaam.

"This is for the people," he said to a host of media cameras and microphones. "I don't need money. It's for the people."

He then promptly left the lights and recorders waiting as he abruptly returned to work.

"232?" he said into the PA system microphone, seamlessly announcing an order number. "232. Fried shrimp basket. Half and half. Kids cheeseburger and fries."

When Salaam returned to the cameras a few moments later, he quickly explained his adeptness behind the counter.

"This is my first time here," he said. "But it's comfortable. I'm like a chameleon. I can work anywhere. It's what I do."

McKinney had an inkling that this wasn't the first time Salaam had run a restaurant, and opined that a career in the food services industry might be in the works for his teammate.

"You can tell that he's worked as a manager in the kitchen because to he likes to order people around," McKinney said. "He thinks he's kind of the boss, so I think he'd do well in a restaurant environment."

Broussard seemed to agree with that assessment. The restaurant owner all but guaranteed Salaam a job offer after observing his steadfast performance.

"We're going to put him to work," Broussard said. "On the off-week, he'll be here." *


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