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Houston Texans

Slaton helps reward NFL Player of the Day Winner


EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is an article on running back Steve Slaton courtesy of Khalil Garriott at, the official website of the NFL Players Association.

A lifelong hobby recently turned into the dream of a lifetime for one lucky NFL fan.

Johnny Titus, a 39-year-old Texans supporter and avid NFL trading card collector from Houston, spent the day with Texans running back Steve Slaton on Sunday, Feb. 15 as the winner of the 2008 NFL Player of the Day contest. Titus and his two sons, ages 12 and six, hosted a private party with Slaton at their home, in addition to winning a shopping spree and free autograph session at Sportscard Shack, a nearby hobby shop.

"As a longtime collector, I have met many players, but this was a really special experience because my kids and I got to spend so much time with Steve," Titus said.

By purchasing a lucky pack of NFL player trading cards, Titus became one of over 200,000 card collectors who participated in this year's national sweepstakes. More than 700 hobby shops across the country sponsored the program and thousands of trading card collectors won various prizes. With such a slim chance of winning the grand prize, Titus never truly thought he would be the ultimate winner.

{QUOTE}"I have been collecting cards for nearly 30 years and this was one of my most memorable collecting experiences," Titus said.

Slaton, coming off an impressive rookie year for the Texans in which he led all rookies in rushing yards, was glad to play his part in giving the Titus family the first-class treatment. He agreed to play in a backyard football game with the Titus boys and their neighborhood friends. After also attending a party at their home, Slaton hopped into a stretch limousine with Titus, his wife and sons en route to Sportscard Shack. At the store, the former West Virginia star spent an hour signing autographs for free and posing for photos with the Titus family, in addition to hundreds of other anxious fans wearing their best Houston Texans gear.

All smiles, Slaton, the 23-year-old tailback who arguably proved to be the steal of the 2008 NFL Draft, enjoyed the opportunity to reward the winner as well as meet some of his adoring local fans.

"It was really cool," Slaton said. "When I was young, I never had the chance to meet a player so I understand how exciting this was for them."

Slaton was glad to give out free autographs to more than 150 anticipating fans at the special event. For 50 of those avid trading card collectors, they were able to reserve a spot at the front of the line if they pulled Slaton's card from a pack of NFL cards purchased at the hobby shop in advance. All other autographs given by Slaton on footballs, helmets, photos and other Texans memorabilia were on a first-come, first-served basis.

"It's a great idea," the running back said of the NFL Player of the Day promotion. "It's a great day for fans and a fun experience for me."

Rory Lopez, who owns Sportscard Shack with her husband, Benjie, was ecstatic to be part of such a fun and rare opportunity for everyone involved.

"I am thrilled for Johnny and his kids," Lopez said. "They are all regular customers at my shop and are big football card collectors and Texans fans. I'm glad to be a part of their special day."

Slaton was the principal reason the day was so special. After replacing Ahman Green in the Houston backfield, the elusive runner started 15 of 16 games in 2008 and scored 10 touchdowns in his opening season. He rushed for 1,282 yards and added another 377 receiving yards, giving the franchise an offensive bedrock for its future. He was one of five finalists for the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year award, which went to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The willingness of a rising star like Slaton to take a day out of his offseason—on a weekend, no less—made him the perfect player pick for the winner.

As it turns out, Slaton grew up collecting trading cards of his favorite athletes as well. He talked about that shared childhood hobby with Titus.

Slaton said, "I was a big card collector as a kid. In fact, I still have all of my cards. I was a big Emmitt Smith fan and collected all of his cards."

A longtime football card collector, Titus realized he was the lucky winner when he uncovered the designated NFL Player of the Day from a pack of cards he purchased at Sportscard Shack. All of the participating stores nationwide had selected a grand-prize winner for a spot in the national sweepstakes, totaling over 100 collectors earning prizes such as autographed NFL trading cards at the national level. Titus, as this season's luckiest of the entrants, also received a $250 shopping spree to spend on NFL-licensed products at Sportscard Shack.

"It's really fun, a nice reward for collectors and a great program for the hobby shops," he said.

Titus continued, "I really enjoyed watching Steve interact with the kids. He's a great guy—very friendly to the kids and courteous to the fans at the card shop. This is an experience they will always remember."

EDITOR'S NOTE: NFL PLAYERS, the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association, coordinated the NFL Player of the Day promotion along with NFL Properties, LLC and trading card licensees Donruss/Playoff, Topps and Upper Deck. This year's program marks the eighth consecutive year that the promotion has rewarded an NFL card collector with the chance to spend a day with an NFL player. Slaton joins a list of well-known names who have been the featured player; Frank Wycheck, Chad Pennington, Ed McCaffrey, Donald Driver, Rudi Johnson, Chris Simms, Maurice Jones-Drew and A.J. Feeley each have participated in the past.

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