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Texans rookies take kids Christmas shopping at Academy


The Texans' rookie class took part in the annual "Shop with a Texan" event Tuesday morning, helping more than 30 children from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston pick out Christmas gifts and merchandise at Academy Sports Outdoors.

Each kid was paired with a player and had $100 with which to buy anything in the store. Some focused on Texans attire while others headed straight to the shoe section, all with huge smiles across their faces.

"It's really heartwarming to come back and give back to the community," rookie guard Brandon Brooks said. "Especially when it comes to kids, you want to do anything. You can kind of see it in their faces. They're really happy to be given things."

Standout rookie linebacker Whitney Mercilus, the Texans' first-round pick from Illinois, had a lot of fun shopping for sports gear with his group of kids, some of whom called him a role model.

"It's huge," Mercilus said. "I actually have a couple relatives that look up to me, younger people. The thing is, I love it, personally. I had role models growing up. I'm glad I can do this for the kids."

Guard Ben Jones, who makes it a point to help out in the community through the team almost every Tuesday, had just as much fun as the delighted children.

"It's a great experience," Jones said. "You wake up early to come out here and shop. I'm out here helping to find some shoe sizes and whatever I can do to help them.

"Growing up, you're always looking up to pro athletes and college athletes, and I'm out here helping kids get some Christmas gifts for their dads and moms. It's a special time of year, and I love giving back."

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