Every year at Spring Training, legendary Detroit Tigers voice Ernie Harwell would recite some of the poem "The Voice of the Turtle" and it would get fans all lathered up for the season.
It went like this –
For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone
The flowers appear on the Earth
The time of the singing of birds is come
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
Ok, you probably 'had to be there.' But trust me, it was a big deal for Michigan folks who were being mentally freed from a deep freeze.
I'm not a Tigers fan but I appreciate the sentiment and I always felt that Texans Training Camp had its own sentimental vibe.
No, it's not Spring. Far from it. A Texans camp poem would have to include the fact that it's so hot you might be able to fry an egg on a car. Texans historically recognize these conditions as a sign that it's time to start practicing football.
I've been here from the start. When Charley Casserly went over every player on the roster with me on the piping hot sideline. When I caught a couple of passes from David Carr, who was airing a few out for a Sports Illustrated shoot. When young Derek Carr, pre voice change, encouraged me to announce his youth league team's games.
I remember joint practices with the Broncos and their offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Jake Plummer and company looked pretty good on their way to an AFC Championship game season. I remember the Raiders at the Houston Methodist Training Center, with Al Davis, using a walker yet still barking out coaching instructions to a young secondary.
I remember the Dolphins scrimmaging the Texans at NRG Stadium, the only time a joint scrimmage ever happened here. Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas were still wearing the Aqua.
I remember the debut of Andre Johnson. The kid looked like he was going to be special. As his career progressed, he would always have a couple of practices that made your eyes pop out and made me want to say "put him in bubble wrap until the season!"
I remember Matt Schaub transforming the passing game in camp as he showed up in 2007. I remember J.J. Watt knocking down passes and being nearly unblockable as he took the NFL field for the first time during those hot August mornings in 2011.
There's so much more. Memories to fill volumes of text. Here we go with another installment. The stakes are as high as ever. The backdrop is a pandemic. When we get through this, we'll always identify photos of this camp by the masks worn by the staff and others.
It's a unique year. The most bizarre and challenging camp. But as the whole world pushes back on the virus, the boys of fall are here and ready for action. Let's enjoy the show.
Houston Texans players condition outdoors in preparation for the start of 2020 Training Camp.