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Texans All Access a hit


It's only May, but fans were everywhere to be found at Reliant Stadium during the Texans All Access event on Thursday night.

Season ticket holders were invited to the event and definitely took advantage of the close interaction with some of their favorite players. Many of the attendees were on the floor of Reliant Stadium, waiting patiently in line for autographs, enjoying the music of the house band, competing in football activities and video games, meeting the Texans Cheerleaders, eagerly watching and cheering when general manager Rick Smith introduced star player after star player on stage and chanting "Mario! Mario!" when defensive end Mario Williams spoke.

They were on the first concourse and Verizon West Club level as well, doing much of the same as they scoured the stadium to find the table occupied by their favorite players.

They were in the Texans' weight room, cafeteria, locker room and the player lounge stocked with X-Box 360s and flat-screen TVs, taking cheerleader-guided tours of their home team's state-of-the-art facilities.

Back on the stadium floor, they were even taste-testing different meats to determine the best hot dogs for Texans home games.

In all, a record-breaking 16,233 fans filled Reliant Stadium for the free event for season ticket holders.

{QUOTE}"I've been to every one of these," said fan Preston Chauvin, who has toured Reliant Stadium more times than he can count, including when it was under construction prior to the 2002 season. "I'm really surprised and happy that there's as many people here tonight. I was kind of surprised, thinking because it's a Thursday night that a lot of the kids wouldn't be able to come, but obviously they must be out of school, so that's fantastic for the kids."

Ray Castaneda, who has followed Houston football since the Oilers played in the Astrodome during his childhood, was first in a very long line leading up to the autograph table featuring tackle Duane Brown, running back Steve Slaton, wide receiver Andre Johnson and linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

He wore a proud look on his face as he walked away from the table after having Johnson, his favorite player, sign a No. 80 jersey.

"It was awesome, man," Castaneda said. "It's a lot fun, and, I don't know, I'm kind of star struck, man, because they're so close in front of me. But everything's cool. It's a lot of fun."

While the free event is designed primarily for season ticket holders, the fantastic turnout also got players fired up for the upcoming season.

"For them to come out on a Thursday night, spend a few hours with us, you don't see that very often in many places," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "So it just says that with things to come, come September, they're going to be in here rocking on Sundays."

Ryans said it meant a lot to have the fans' support, and that it made him want to play ever harder for them next season.

"You look forward to these events just to come out and actually see the fans face-to-face and take the time out to sign autographs for them, and the fans really appreciate it," he said. "Here, they actually have a chance to come out and meet us face-to-face and I think it's good for both ends, for the players and the fans, to actually see who's cheering for you and to actually see us without the helmets on."

Frank Carrera, of South Houston, had the opportunity to watch his son, Frankie, meet and pose for a picture with his favorite player, cornerback Dunta Robinson. He also enjoyed getting one-on-one time with players himself, as well as hearing Smith and the Texans players talk about the 2008 season to the roaring approval of the crowd.

"I was excited," Carerra said. "It gets me excited; it gets me hyped up. I'm counting down. Two months, man! Forget basketball, forget baseball; I don't care about none of that, man. Football season is what it's about."

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