Eric Brown, who played safety for the Texans from 2002-04, is in his first season as a Houston Texans Ambassador.
*This article appeared in the September 2, 2010 edition of the Texans Gameday Magazine.
Eric Brown already had a Super Bowl ring before he became a member of the expansion Texans in 2002. Still, there was something about being a part of something new.
"We didn't have a huge amount of expectations on us," Brown said. "People said, 'They're going to be what they're going to be' their first year, but we had put expectations on ourselves because we had a few guys who'd played and been around. I'd been around."
Brown, who was born in San Antonio, played college football at Mississippi State and was drafted in the second round by the Denver Broncos in 1998 as the 61st overall pick. He started 10 games in his rookie season and earned a championship ring in Super Bowl XXXIII.
He started 42 games at safety over the next three seasons in Denver before he was signed by the Texans in 2002.
"I came in late, when they were finishing training camp," Brown said. "Everything was on the run for me. Learning was sped up, and while I was getting to know the guys, I was thrown in. A couple of the guys I knew, but I didn't know many. We kind of did everything on the run."
Brown and every other Texan from that 2002 team remembers beating the Cowboys in their first regular-season game, 19-10. It was only the second time in NFL history that an expansion team won its first game.
"That was a great feeling because nobody expected us to do it," Brown said. "We took it personally, especially since it was like it was a battle of Texas. We knew it was the battle of Texas, but nobody else did.
"It snuck up and bit them (Cowboys)."
Brown had two interceptions in the Texans' inaugural season and contributed 69 tackles. He has fond memories of the Texans' Oct. 13 game from that season against the Buffalo Bills.
"I had a fantastic game," Brown said. "I made a couple of big hits in the backfield, broke up a couple of good passes that if I'd have caught (for an interception), it would have been the game."
The Texans lost that game, 31-24, but Brown went on to make 35 starts in three seasons in Houston as the fledgling franchise built toward respectability. He retired after the 2004 season, finishing his career with 256 tackles, 6.5 sacks and nine interceptions.
Brown is back with the Texans now as a rookie member of the Texans Ambassadors, a group of former NFL players living in the Houston area who contribute to the Texans' community activities. He has been doing his own community work at the YMCA in League City, Texas, and hopes to incorporate that with his involvement with the Texans.
"The last year-and-a-half, I've been working with the YMCA and trying to just go into the community and talk to the kids and try to find a way to give back," Brown said. "Since I played for so many years, the kids are kind of drawn to me, so I use that and enjoy helping kids and people.
"I love that place. I help them use the exercise machines and I have a lot of time, and kids come through and ask me questions. I sit and talk with older people. I feel (that) when I'm there, I'm making a difference."
That commitment to the community is part of the reason why Brown joined the Texans Ambassadors. He expects the current Texans to go far on the field, and it's rewarding for him to know that he helped lay the foundation for what the team has become.
"They have a great team with a lot of experienced guys coming back," Brown said. "They have 'Dre (Andre Johnson), and he's the best receiver in the league. I think they have an awesome chance to do some great things this year."