Mother's/Fathers' Days are two of my favorite days of the year, but I never know exactly how to pay homage to my parents on that day. As such, I often open up the memory bank with a story that foretold some sort of lesson in my adult life. Consequently, my writing is a way of saying thanks for all that they did for me. This is one that hopefully includes all of my loves - my mom/dad, football and the Texans.
In 2019, the Texans traveled to Green Bay for their first preseason game of that season. Furthermore, they added two days of joint practices as well, which the Packers hadn't done much since Aaron Rodgers had taken over as Green Bay's quarterback. Four years prior, my parents left the cozy, humid confines of Pecan Grove in Richmond, TX for the, well, less humid confines of Marinette, WI, where I was born and where my dad was the head coach for the local HS football team for seven years (he coached high school football for nearly 40 years). It was a move I expected them to make to be around family and friends they had missed for decades, but I still missed them nonetheless.
However, with us being in Green Bay for that week, I knew I'd have a chance to see my parents for a bit and I was ecstatic. I had the thought that maybe my parents could drive down for one of the joint practices. Yes, I said drive down, like from north of Green Bay. You think Green Bay is cold? Go north, my friends. Either way, Marc Vandermeer and I had radio in our usual spot from 8 am - 10 am and the Packers put us in a little perch that overlooked the field. So, when we finished radio, I went and brought my parents in and my Pops and I watched practice together, unabated from that perch.
The weird thing was that I had never watched a practice together with my dad; either he had been coaching or I was playing or he was coaching me while I was playing. But, this was different. We sat there and watched everything that was going on. I went through our roster as we watched things happen and we discussed all the action we were seeing together. Then, the Texans defensive line and the Packers offensive line walked just under our nose for some pass rush one-on-ones. My parents, being of Wisconsin/upper peninsula descent, LOVE J.J. Watt. While J.J. played at the University of Wisconsin, I heard constantly about him, and his exploits, as a Badger. Trust me, there were no boos in the Harris household when Watt was drafted in Houston. I sat there with my dad watching J.J. go to WORK against the Packers offensive linemen, discussing how he won each rep, talking football like we always had.
See, that's where my dad and I connect and always have. My mom and I can go for hours discussing everything going on with my kids, doctors' appointments, their friends, the Friday fish fry. My dad and I get on the phone…
"How you doin'?"
"You see that front that Oklahoma ran against Texas?"
"Well, we ran that against Calhoun High back in the day, but we'd put a 4i on the backside, because they had a tremendous running back and we were scared of the cutback. I wasn't sure how Texas could exploit…"
And, that would go on for 30 minutes. My wife would often eavesdrop and ask what we were talking about and I could never really tell her. Finally, I would just say…
"We were just talking ball."
So, there we were in Green Bay, Wisconsin for two full hours at the Packers facility, where I lost the 1982 Wisconsin State Punt Pass and Kick competition 37 years earlier, just…talking ball. There was no place I'd have rather been.
Love you, Pops (and you too Mom for allowing our football sickness to grow together forever). I'll call you this weekend to talk about the Texans new offense