The 2007 Houston Texans Draft Luncheon was held Tuesday, May 1 at the Westin Galleria hotel.
This event is one of my favorites and I highly recommend it. All you need is $45 and an understanding boss who will let you take about a two-hour lunch.
The payback is that you will be treated to one of the best off-field team events of the season. It's an event where fans, players, coaches, ownership and management come together to celebrate the past and future – and enjoy some pretty tasty food.
This year's luncheon was emceed by the Voice of the Texans, Marc Vandermeer, who presided over a full agenda in front of a packed ballroom of around 600 attendees. This is an event where you can look around the audience and see everything from business people in suits (including Bob McNair and his son Cal) to fans in Texans jerseys and horn head helmets.
Those in attendance were treated to a 'hot off the presses' 2007 Texans Draft Video which highlighted this year's draft crop. The video was followed by comments from Texans GM Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak.
Smith shared the experience of leading his first draft, which included a funny story about the fire alarm going off in the stadium - and in the Texans War Room - right about the time they were executing the trade with New Orleans in the 4th round on Sunday. Luckily it was only a test.
Smith also talked about the improvements the Texans are making in the scouting processes, especially in the use of information technology to better house and mine the mountains of data they gather on college and pro players.
This is the second time I've heard Kubiak speak in a setting like this and it's the second time I was looking around for a helmet to don and a wall to run through when his was finished. I call him a 'stealth motivator' because he's not up there waving his arms or pounding his fist on the podium. He's just delivering a clear and inspirational message – and it's still fresh – and I believe him.
It's a side of Gary's personality that doesn't come across during the regular media clips we see on television or what we hear on radio, but I'm here to tell ya, this guy is passionate about what he does and he wears it on his sleeve. There are no note cards or clichés when you get Gary talking about the goals he has for this team.
When he finished, we all just kind of looked at each other and said "is it August yet?"
This year the luncheon was combined with a Touchdown Club of Houston annual awards event. The Touchdown Club does a lot of great work in the city, and at the luncheon they presented local high school and college Scholar Athlete of the Year awards. The Touchdown Club also presented the Mickey Herskowitz Award for media friendliness to Texans defensive end N.D. Kalu.
Other Texans players receiving awards were Andre Johnson, Texans MVP; DeMeco Ryans, Texans Rookie of the Year; Mark Bruener, Spirit of the Bull; and Kailee Wong, Ed Block Courage Award.
Bruener also accepted the 2006 Greater Houston Pro Football Player of the Year Award to Alan Faneca of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Faneca, a graduate of Lamar Consolidated High School in Rosenberg, was unable to attend.
The 2006 Reliant Energy Scholarship for Champions recipients were also presented with their awards at the luncheon. Eight local high school students were recognized for their outstanding athletic and academic accomplishments before they head off to places like Notre Dame, Brown, and MIT. As I sat there and listened to their bios and long lists of accomplishments all I could say was "wow!"
I think N.D. Kalu said it best when he congratulated the group and said "I didn't think GPA's went that high."
You can email Alan Burge at: firstname.lastname@example.org