*This article originally appeared in the Houston Texans Gameday Magazine on September 12, 2010.
Quarterback Mike Quinn was among the first group of 10 players signed by the expansion Texans in 2002. He was the only player in that group still on the team at the end of that first season.
Not only did Quinn become a footnote in team history, he watched rookie quarterback David Carr take every snap that season and set an NFL record as the most sacked quarterback in one season with 74.
Quinn never got into a game, but he took pride in trying to be ready if he got the call. Ten years later, the Texans did call and asked him to become a member of the Houston Texans Ambassadors.
The Ambassadors are a group of former NFL players living in the Houston area, who participate in Texans community activities and sign autographs at Texans events.
"I was honored they invited me to be a part of it," Quinn said. "(Texans chairman and CEO) Mr. (Bob) McNair has built a great organization. It's a great group of people to be associated with, so it was a no brainer for me to accept their invitation."
Quinn walked on at Stephen F. Austin and started his senior year. He began his pro career as an undrafted free agent with the Steelers in 1997 and was the team's No. 3 quarterback. He then went to NFL Europe and helped the Rheine Fire reach the title game.
"I come from humble beginnings," Quinn said. "I was a walk-on at Stephen F. Austin and an undrafted free agent with the Steelers. I think a lot of people would say I wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. I stuck around for eight years and just did my best to be a good teammate and made sure I was giving everything I had."
That first season in Houston remains among Quinn's best pro memories.
"I remember having a great sense of pride of being the first signed with the first 10 players and the only player out of the 10 to make it the full 2002 season," Quinn said. "I remember it being a special time to be a part of the beginning of something, to be a part of the foundation of that team.
"We took our lumps, but the guys gave a tremendous amount of effort. The city was just excited to have an NFL team back."
Quinn and Tony Banks were the team's backup quarterbacks. They remained on the sidelines and winced along with the fans as Carr took a beating.
"It was a good thing he was young," Quinn said. "He was able to bounce back from setting the NFL record for sacks in a season. It served him well being in great shape, but he took every snap that season.
"We as backup quarterbacks tried to do our part to encourage him that we were ready for each week."
Quinn still wishes he'd been able to play.
"As a player, you want to be out there on the field, but the reality is you have to be patient and wait for your opportunities," Quinn said. "They come at different times in your career, and you have to be ready.
"Fortunately or unfortunately, only one quarterback got to play that season. Tony Banks and I can still take pride that we prepared ourselves to be ready to compete if our numbers were called."
Quinn retired in 2006 and settled in Houston. He bought season tickets for his mother in 2002 and has kept them over the years. Still, it was hard to for Quinn to be a fan for a while.
"My first few years out of it, I went to one Texans game and I felt totally uncomfortable," Quinn said. "I was sweating and felt out of place being in the stands. I still felt I could play and that I deserved to be on a team somewhere. It takes a while to accept the fact that it's time to move on.
"It's definitely a different feeling now than the first few years. I've become much more of a fan again. I enjoy watching a game rather than thinking about 'shouldas.'" *
EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky., Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro teams. *