]( "Shane Lechler")
Shane Lechler is so excited to play football in Houston, about an hour drive from his hometown of East Bernard, Texas, that he called it a "dream come true."
Lechler signed with the Texans on Saturday after 13 seasons with the Oakland Raiders. The 36-year-old punter said he has followed the Texans since their inception in 2002 and has wanted to be a part of the team for years.
"It's going to be outstanding because now I've got family, friends, all the support of my hometown, East Bernard," Lechler said on Saturday afternoon at Reliant Stadium. "Everybody's excited. After the news hit last night that I was going to sign today, I mean, my phone was non-stop from six o'clock until I stopped looking at it at about 11 and it was just steady going off. Everybody's excited for me, and I'm excited to be able to perform in front of them again, just to go out and put on a good show for these guys."
Lechler's parents live in Sealy. His grandparents live in East Bernard and Wharton, and his brother in Mont Belvieu. Each Texas town is within an hour of Houston. Lechler has lived in the Houston suburb of Richmond in the offseason for years and previously lived in Katy.
Both of Lechler's parents were athletes at Baylor University. His father played defensive end, his mother point guard on the basketball team. One of Lechler's grandfathers played center at Baylor.
Lechler played his college football at Texas A&M, less than two hours away from Houston. He was recruited in 1993 by then-Aggies head coach R.C. Slocum and running backs coach Gary Kubiak, who is now his head coach with the Texans.
"To be around Coach Kubiak (again), it's going to be an honor and a lot of fun," Lechler said. "They're winning a lot of football games, which I'm ready to get involved in as much as I can. I'm just excited about it."
The Raiders made the AFC Championship Game in Lechler's rookie year in 2000, reached the Divisional Round of the playoffs in his second year and lost in the Super Bowl in his third season. They didn't finish better than .500 or reach the playoffs in any of the next 10 seasons.
The Texans have won 22 games, two AFC South division titles and two Wild Card playoff games in the last two seasons.
"This team, it's an exciting football team," Lechler said. "To be able to go out and just have the feeling of winning and getting to the playoffs and knowing every Sunday that you've got a shot... I'm very excited to get back to the postseason and I'm excited for good things to happen here. It's been a long time since I got to the end of the year and had something to play for, so I'm ready for it."