Five years later, the game still resonates among the throng of Houston Texans fans. It was on Sept. 8, 2002, six years after professional football left Houston, that 69,604 people packed Reliant Stadium to witness history.
The Texans hosted the Dallas Cowboys on ESPN Sunday Night Football and came away with a 19-10 victory. To revisit that great day in Texans history, we asked fans to send us their best memories from that fateful night. Following are your responses. Thanks to everyone for the memories.
I was completely ecstatic when the Texans won their first game in 2002. Being that my mother is a livid Cowboys fan and being a former Oilier fan myself, we had many arguments. I was hearing it all spring and summer that year from her that the Cowboys were going to kick the you-know-what out of the Texans.
After the sack by Seth Payne to put the Texans up 19-10, I started screaming and yelling in her face and it hasn't stopped in four years. Hopefully, the Texans can do it again and my non-stop gloating to her can continue for another four years!!!
-Donald Nix (Sparks, Nevada)
I was at home watching the game more out of curiosity than anything else. I just wanted to see the new team, the new uniforms and find out if an expansion team could win their first game. I was cheering not only for the Texans because they were the NFL's newest team, but also because I wanted them to beat the Dallas Cowboys. I live in Suisun, California. It is in the Northern California region, between San Francisco and Sacramento.
I am a Denver Broncos fan and I like the San Francisco 49ers a little because they are local and they did dominate the NFL for a decade. I didn't like the Cowboys because of their NFC rivalry with the 49ers, plus the fact that they got a win over Denver in the Super Bowl.
Suffice it to say, I can't stand the Cowboys. So when Houston whooooped Dallas in 2002, I was jumping up and down and became a Texan! Now that Gary Kubiak is there along with Jeb "Wild Man" Putzier and Ron "The Rock" Dayne, how can I not be a Texan?
I expect Houston to whip Dallas again. Go Texans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-John Messenger (Suisun City, California)
I remember that game like it was yesterday. I still rub the score in Cowboys fans' faces. I watched the game at my home and invited a lot of my friends and family over who were all Cowboy fans, and this included my fiancé who is now my wife.
I only had one friend of mine who was a Texans fan, and when we scored that first touchdown to Billy Miller, we went ballistic. The Seth Payne sack was just icing on the cake.
That win made it easier to hold my chin up as I am surrounded by Cowboys fans on a daily basis and all I have to say to them is "19-10 remember!" I will be at the game this Sunday with my wife, family and friends who are all Cowboy fans, and I will have another four years to rub our victory in their faces.
-Fidel "TEXAN" Calvillo (Port Isabel, Texas)
My name is Jose Hernandez and I want to share my favorite moment of the Houston Texans' first win. My friends and I purchased the best season ticket seats we could find. Expense was not an issue. My seat was in section 637, row T, seat 11.
For those of you who are not familiar with these seats, let me paint a picture. If I am looking straight down at the field from my seat, I am looking at the 20-yard line, and if I turn my body ever so slightly to the right, I am looking right at the 35-yard line. I also need to mention that there is nothing or no one behind me but A/C vents. It's an act of congress to get the beer man to come see me about a cold one.
My favorite moment came in the first quarter when then-starting tight end Billy Miller scored on a passing play from David "Big V8" Carr. At that moment, I jumped up from my seat and shouted at the top of my lungs. I could literally feel the stadium under my feet shaking as the entire crowd exploded with cheers. The best part about it is that the cheers were so loud that I could not hear my own screams!
I was so exhausted after the celebration, but I realized then how hungry this city was for a winning football team we could call our own. I have been to many sporting events in this city, and I can honestly say that I have never experienced the thrill, joy, and excitement that I felt at that moment.
Coming in a close second to that feeling was seeing the final seconds tick off the game clock sealing the Houston Texans' first win against our rivals to the north.
-Jose Hernandez (Houston, Texas)
My family, including my wife and four children, and I moved to Houston in March of 2002 from a small town in Arkansas. I can remember being in Arkansas and hearing the news that Houston was getting another team. I was excited knowing that we'd be there for the team's first season. I never dreamed I'd be a part of Houston history, actually being at the first regular season game EVER at Reliant Stadium.
In fact, I wasn't going to go to the game at all. As much as my son and I were excited that we actually lived in a city with professional sports teams, we couldn't afford tickets. Starting out in this city as a staff pastor at a church in North Houston, we were hand-to-mouth for the first year we lived here.
So how'd we get to the game? Our kids are home-schooled, which means that my wife owes a ton in overdue book charges in the Houston Public Library system. When my wife and children opened up their accounts, they were automatically entered in a contest to win a pair of tickets to the Texans' first game. I had no idea about the contest, no clue. My son, seven years old at the time, was also clueless.
In any case, we knew who the Texans were. They were our team, even though we'd never seen them play a down of football. OUR TEAM. It means something to us to support the home team, and we were looking forward to becoming fans.
My wife called me a couple of weeks before the game and told me the news: We'd won two tickets to the first game, against the team all Houston fans wanted to see fail more than any other, the dreaded Dallas Cowboys.
I didn't understand at the time, but now I recognize the rivalry and pride of Houston. My son, Tanner, was so excited. He didn't know a single player, but he didn't care. It was our team and we were going to be able to go and watch them at the first game. Wow! It was our very first big league sporting event. That's right. He and I had never been to a major sporting event before.
Tanner and I made a day of it. I worked half a day and came home to begin riding the wave of hype. We rode the park-n-ride. I honestly thought we'd get drilled by Dallas, but we didn't care. I was fully prepared to come home hoarse and unable to talk for a week anyways.
I'd never felt such electricity in one place before. I had to choke back tears as we topped the stairs and crested the walk way to the third-level seats in the south end zone and looked out into Reliant Stadium. My son's eyes were so wide, his mouth hung open barely hiding an ear-to-ear grin! It was magical...something I couldn't have ever written up in a script. The pregame show, the fireworks, the electricity was almost too much for our senses to take in. The game began. I pointed out Emmitt Smith (my son wasn't impressed) and David Carr (my son wanted to meet him after the game).
The moment I'll never forget about the game was in the fourth quarter. The Texans had Dallas in a third-and-long situation with the game on the line. The place was deafening all night, but on this play 69,000 fans stood up and screamed at the top of their lungs and waved those towels as if we were actually on the field with the team. My son stood on his seat and screamed and waved his towel, looking through the binoculars. I barely felt him tugging on my shirt. He said, "Wow dad, this is awesome!.....What are we screaming soooooo loud for?"
About that time, we stopped Smith well short of a first down. What seemed like loud cheers faded away into a roar that had to be heard all over Houston. I explained to my son what happened, and he jumped up and down on that seat as if he'd made the defensive stop himself.
He and I sometimes relive that night. He's almost 12 now. He and I follow the Texans religiously. We cheer and jeer. We've never been to another game, though we've wanted to so many times. But what happened that night in September 2002 was more than just a great night of football in a historic setting. A little boy became a Texans fan for life, and a father shared a memory with his son that will live forever.
Thank you for a wonderful part of my life.
-Scott Harrison (Houston, Texas)
Having been a season-ticket holder to the Houston Oilers for more than a decade, I couldn't wait for the return of football to Houston. The only problem I had was that I lived halfway around the world in Asia when the Texans were scheduled to play their inaugural game against the Dallas Cowboys.
There was no way I was going to miss this game. I purchased three tickets in the Bull Pen on eBay (I think I'm still trying to pay off this loan) and one round-trip ticket for a 24-hour flight from Singapore to Houston. I had my first tailgating experience. We cooked burgers on the grill. In the Bull Pen, the crowd was unlike any I'd ever seen. When the Texans won the game, you could feel the stadium shaking from the crowd.
The bonus was that sitting just behind me in the Bull Pen was the couple who had sat next to me for many years while watching football in the Astrodome. I hadn't seen them since football moved to Tennessee. What are the odds of buying tickets at an auction to a game with 70,000 seats and sitting next to friends you hadn't seen in years?
The Texans' inaugural game was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I knew immediately that I'd be a TEXANS FAN forever.
-Jim (Sugar Land, Texas)
I was actually at that game. It was the first football game I ever went to. It was also my fist time in Texas. See, I just moved from Alabama and a friend of mine invited me to go see the game. I said sure, because growing up in Tennessee I was a Cowboys fan because Dallas had the team closest to where I lived.
But since moving to Houston, I heard they were going to have a football team and I then made the switch to being a Texans fan. I haven't looked back since. I remember the first touchdown that Billy Miller caught, and once he scored, the stadium went crazy. We were high-fiving everyone around us. I will never forget that game. I also still have the ticket. And I haven't missed a game since that one.
-Jeremy Simmons (Kingwood, Texas)
I will never forget that day for as long as I live. I have been a Texans fan since before we had any personnel except for Mr. McNair.
Right after the 2002 NFL Draft, I went out and bought a David Carr jersey. I decided not wear it until our biggest day in team history. I am the one and only Texans fan in both mine and my wife's families.
On Sept 8, 2002, we had a big cookout for the game. I was outnumbered like one to 50. They had flags all over the place including on the street poles. Where I live in Lubbock, the city is dominated by Cowboys fans. I was not only getting grief from the family, but also my town. I heard everything from "Carr who?" to "Houston is trying to copy the old Dallas Texans." My response: WHATEVER. I stood my ground and did some trash talking of my own.
Well, when the game started, people began betting me left to right cause they thought they were going to just run over us. The best thing that came out of that day was knowing that the Cowboys fans respected the Houston Texans.
I vowed to not wear that Carr jersey again till the next game in 2006. So I will finally take my jersey out of retirement and wear it with pride again this Sunday, and I know we will have bragging rights for years to come.
-Emilio Garcia (Lubbock, Texas)
I was at that game in 2002. Texans vs. Cowboys. I got my tickets on the day of the game. It was the best $300 I ever spent. I was on the 20-yard line on the same side of the field that Billy Miller scored the first touchdown in Texans' history. The excitement in the stadium was unbelievable. I remember that stadium rocking from the first kick to the last second of the game. Then I also remember the safety that closed the deal for us. I remember the Cowboys fans sitting behind me getting up and leaving. I will remember that game for the rest of my life.
I want to thank the Texans for a great moment in my life. I will be a die-hard Houston Texans fan for the rest of my life. Even if they never have a winning season, I will never give up. Thanks.
-Barry Thomas (Marshall, Texas)
It was electric. I have never been to a football game with a better atmosphere. The wait was over and we had our team. Our season tickets placed us in the north end zone just two rows from the top -- the nose-bleed section. As luck would have it, two rows above us sat a group of the most obnoxious Cowboys fans ever. We gave and we got, back and forth.
When we scored the safety it was one of the greatest moments I've ever experienced in sports. All the Texans fans around us danced and hugged each other. Behind us sat the silent Cowboys fans, and they slowly began to file out of the stadium, down the steps. We cheered and shook our keys. I've never enjoyed a football game as much as I enjoyed that one. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
-Gary Rosonet (Biloxi, Mississippi)
I live smack dab in the middle of Dallas, but grew up in Houston and was an Oilers fan just as much as I am a Texans fan now. For the game against Dallas in 2002, I had a party at my house with all my friends who happen to be Cowboys fans. For weeks, they rode me and rode me about how the Texans were going to just get hammered. During the game, they still kept on ripping on me even though Houston was holding its own.
I will never forget the look on their faces when Corey Bradford scored the touchdown in the fourth quarter. Then after the game was over and we won, you could not wipe the smile from my face for a week. I am one of the fans that still brings it up: 19-10 BABY!!
Still the best win ever. I still have the front page of the local morning paper framed in my game room. The headline reads: "STATE OF SHOCK."
Needless to say, my friends left my Texans alone after that game.
-Joey Simpson (Plano, Texas)
I have to say that game was the day I saw this young quarterback, David Carr, throw like no other quarterback I've seen. I knew then that I was a Houston Texans fan for life. I still believe in the Texans, and that's why even though my husband (a Steelers fan) and my son (an Eagles fan) are not Texans fans, I cheer more for my team than they do, and I scream and holler on Sundays as though the team hears me through the TV set. Also, I bought the NFL Sunday Ticket, so I can watch my Texans play each week.
Win or lose, the Texans are tops in my heart. Thanks for being the Texans.
-Cindra Morris (Smyrna, Delaware)
I moved to Houston about 12 years ago, and I told my wife when we moved that I was moving to Houston on one condition: I was going to every professional football game I could. I got a hold of a pair of Oilers season tickets. I got to enjoy one good season of LUV YA BLUE when the team announced it was leaving Houston. I stuck it out to the very end along with about 2,000 others.
When it was announced that we were getting the Texans, I was one of the very first to apply for my PSL. The big game finally arrived, and it was against my former favorite team (before moving to Houston): the dreaded Dallas Cowboys. Not only were we playing this greatest of rivals, but the date (Sept. 8, 2002) fell on my 60 th birthday. Needles to say, all birthday plans were centered on being able to leave in plenty of time to make the opening kickoff. I did not want to arrive late like I did for the very first preseason game, showing up after the first quarter.
I even bought myself a present. I purchased a team jersey with my name on it, and the number corresponded to the year of my birthday we were celebrating. I still wear that to every game.
When David let go that bomb on the first play of the game and the crowd came even more alive, I knew that this was the greatest birthday any football fanatic could ever have.
-Stan Lack (Houston, Texas)
When I arrived at the stadium on Sept. 8, 2002, I never dreamed what that day would actually become to mean to me, and how it would change the rest of my life.
I went to college with Earl Campbell, and when the Oilers drafter him, I became a "regular" (as opposed to obsessed) Oilers fan. I watched games on T.V., but never went to a game. Earl and Bum Phillips. Boy, it doesn't get much better than that.
Then we lost our team. We got the contract for the new team and the new stadium. It was exciting, but at the same time, it was so unknown. I had lost track of football. I didn't know who David Carr was, or Dom Capers. I did know who Bob McNair was. I wasn't even sure I liked the name "The Houston Texans." I knew I liked the red, white and blue because it "IS" American.
Fast forward to the night of the infamous game. The Cowboys have disgusted me for about as far back as I can remember. So that was as good of a reason as any to be there.
So there we were on that Sunday night. How fitting for our new little franchise to start out playing "those guys"!!! We sit in Section 134 and a lot of Cowboys guests were around us. As the game went on, and things got wound up, and we were actually competing and beating the Cowboys, no one near me was sitting. We were all up, the roar of the crowd and the screaming was deafening. I jumped so high yelling and screaming that game that I had no voice by the end, and I was totally exhausted when it was over. All of a sudden, you knew what it was to be a "HOUSTON TEXAN"!!!!
I was so proud of David Carr and all the guys that night, and I didn't really know too much about them. What a monumental start to the dream of a lifetime. I left our gorgeous stadium that night with a renewed sense of wanting to be part of this team.
I have been at every home game since then, except for maybe two of them, and am in front of my T.V. screaming when we are not at home. My "obsession" started that night when we beat the Cowboys.
I have mentioned the score, 19-10, over the years, but I would like to have a new winning score to use against the Cowboys after this week, especially since we will be at their house. There wouldn't be anything sweeter. I will be there Sunday with all my Texans friends to bring that old place down for a final time.** I BELIEVE!!!!!!!
**I'M A TEXAN!!!!
-Beverly Dencer (Houston, Texas)