My tenth year in Mobile for the Senior Bowl was the best people-watching I remember.
For the past three seasons, though, I felt those eyes on me in some sense. I always go over to Mobile representing the Texans, wearing Texans gear 24/7 for the week in Alabama.
Last year, as I walked into Hancock Whitney Stadium, I saw a couple of randos stare me down. They looked at me as if I had three heads and five arms, and then they quickly turned their heads. Regardless of how cool that would've been to have multiple appendages, I was just walking in for practice at the Senior Bowl. As I walked past those two heathens, I overheard one say something to the other about the Texans and they both chuckled.
Now, I'm not much for people that don't know me, my/the situation or where I'm from, in all honesty. So, I just left it alone and moved on into the stands. It wasn't the first time that had happened over the past three seasons at the Senior Bowl. At least, my agent friends would ask me how things were going, instead of making snide comments like the other bozos.
Not this year.
From the second I walked into Hancock Whitney Stadium, sporting my Texans gear, it was a much different situation.
"OH MAN, DEMECO?!? Is it going to happen?!?"
That happened multiple times on Tuesday and, as much as I read the tea leaves and WANTED DeMeco Ryans to become the Texans head coach, I could only reply.
"Man, I hope so. Nothing's set in stone yet."
Then, while I was on the field watching OL/DL pass rush one-on-ones, I got a text saying that it was official. I can't even tell you the joy I felt at that moment. Later, Marc Vandermeer called me as I was driving to my AirBnB from practice to share what the day was like and what I missed, unfortunately.
I didn't even care. It got done and it got done RIGHT.
The next day, I had to get two new tires on my rig because, well, when one travels seven hours and change, a screw might end up in the rear right tire. Anyhow, I'm in the tire shop in Mobile, a mile or so from campus, getting a pair of new tires, and there was a TV in the lobby area with local news playing. It started with a block on the Senior Bowl and I'd heard all that stuff before so I wasn't paying it too much mind. Then, I heard "Houston Texans". I looked up and there was DeMeco's bright shining face as the newscast discussed the former Alabama star's new destination in his old home in Houston. I just pumped my fist and walked up to pay for my tires.
As I was up at the counter, the GM of the store looked at me, recognized the Texans logos and excitedly said.
"Oh, man, y'all just got a new coach. He's going to do great!"
The sentiment has certainly changed nearly 500 miles from home and beyond.