T.J. Yates, Whitney Mercilus, and Jon Weeks and several Texans cheerleaders visited two local fire stations on Tuesday to honor their fallen firefighters.
Fire Stations 51 and 68 each lost a pair of firefighters in the Southwest Houston five-alarm fire on May 31. Long snapper Weeks, entering his fourth season with the Texans, was well on his way to becoming a firefighter when the Texans called him for a tryout.
"For the two years I was out of football, I was training to be a firefighter," Weeks said. "I was a cadet with the Surprise (Arizona) Fire Department. I was about a week away from graduating with my EMT before I signed with the Texans."
Weeks went to high school in Glendale, Arizona before attending Baylor and long-snapping for the Bears from 2004-2007. Weeks likened the firefighters' kinship to that of his teammates.
"These guys, they are a very tight unit," Weeks said. "They're inseparable. They are family and that's the best way to describe them. As a football player, I think we have that same feeling in the locker room that they have here in the fire department. The best way to describe it is how you are family with every other person in this department."
Weeks will be working alongside two new teammates this season, snapping for kicker Randy Bullock and punter Shane Lechler who both hail from Texas A&M. When asked if there was any intra-state collegiate rivalry between them, Weeks laughed.
"It's funny. It gets brought up a lot," Weeks said. "I'm a Bear but now I'm a Texan and those guys are Texans too. They are very good at what they do and I am going to enjoy working with them."
Weeks has high hopes for Bullock, Lechler and the 2013 season as well.
"With the adjustments I have to make, they are easy for me," Weeks said. "I have a Hall of Fame punter who makes my job really easy and a kicker with a great leg who is going to make the unit look very impressive. There is not a lot I have to do. I just have to do what I've always done and throw the ball back there and put it where it needs to be at."