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Texans Ambassador Profile: Bubba McDowell


Former Oilers safety Bubba McDowell returned an interception for a touchdown against the Bills in the infamous 1993 playoff loss at Buffalo.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article first appeared in the Houston Texans Gameday magazine on Nov. 29, 2009, for Houston's showdown at home against the Indianapolis Colts.

Bubba McDowell, who played safety with the Houston Oilers from 1989-94, is in his fourth season as a Houston Texans Ambassador.

Bubba McDowell has been doing what he does best since retiring from pro football. He seldom passes up an opportunity to work with young football players, especially those who need direction.

McDowell is a coach at Willowridge High School, where he preaches a message of hard work to the players. He also has spoken to thousands of students in the Houston, Aldine, Fort Bend and Conroe Independent School Districts.

A longtime volunteer with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, McDowell actively participates in the organization's youth ministries and programs.

"That's the way I was raised," he said. "My mama and dad urged me to give back. I've always been that type of person when I had the chance. God has blessed me to play in such a wonderful arena, to meet and play against some of the best of the best, the Hall of Famers, and I always said if I ever had the chance to give back, I'd do it.

"If there's anything I can do, especially with kids, I'll be there. That's where it has to start, with the younger generation. They're going to be taking care of us."

McDowell played for the Houston Oilers from 1989-94 and finished his career with the Carolina Panthers in 1995. He sees a need for attention to youth now as much as when he was growing up.

"Kids want to see and do what they see on TV, but they don't want to put in the work," McDowell said. "That's the biggest thing I see in our kids today. These kids are more talented and athletic even than when I was coming up. That's not going to get you to the next level. You try to get them to see it your way and to put in the work."

Well-recognized for his work in the community, McDowell volunteers with The United Negro College Fund, United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, The Escape Center, Communities in Schools, Sickle Cell Association of the Texas Gulf Coast, Leukemia Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). He is a Lifetime Member of the NAACP and a member of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's prestigious National "Muscle Team."

{QUOTE}In 2006, McDowell took on another role when he joined the Houston Texans Ambassadors. The Ambassadors are a group of former NFL players who sign autographs at Texans games and participate in other community projects.

"It allows me to go back and communicate with some of the older players that played before me and cleared the way for me and some of the players that I played with and against," McDowell said. "Seeing them here in the Texas area is really eye-opening.

"I also knew the program was giving back and giving me a chance to be involved with kids' programs. I love doing that."

McDowell has served as an NFL minority coaching intern with the Texans, Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins. He coached safeties at the University of Houston in 2007 and was an assistant coach at Texas Southern University for four seasons, beginning in 2003.

His NFL career began in 1989. After being drafted by the Oilers, he earned a starting position as a rookie in training camp. McDowell recorded four interceptions that season on his way to being named first-team All-Rookie by multiple outlets.

He would finish his career with 17 interceptions, plus two picks in the postseason. One of those came in "The Comeback," an infamous Wild Card playoff game that the Oilers lost to the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 3, 1993.

Early in the third quarter of that game, McDowell intercepted a Frank Reich pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Oilers a 35-3 lead, but the Bills charged back to win 41-38 in overtime. It was the greatest comeback in NFL history.

"That was the biggest game of my career, taking the interception coming back out and running it back and giving us a big lead," McDowell said. "Unfortunately, we came out on the other end at the end of the game. We beat those guys earlier in the season and thought we could go out and whip them again."

The game is still replayed on TV. McDowell always knows when it's being shown.

"So many people call me when they see it rerun on ESPN and tell me," McDowell said. "I say, 'Yeah, yeah, I know.' I have a tape of it. I already know what happens."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky., Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro teams.

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