Editor’s note: Neal Farmer is Executive Director of the Touchdown Club, a former reporter for the Houston Chronicle and an all around good guy. He does the Monday updates.
By NEAL FARMER
This is the time that the Houston Texans will be adding to their brand, with the NFL draft coming up. But I am happy to be a part of the Texans who gave things away to improve someone else. How? Read on.
The former equipment manager for the pro team kept all of the equipment the team had when the NFL switched from Addidas to Nike. Since the brand that all teams had to use was the newer one, the older items were not disseminated to the players, coaches and support staff. That meant there was a storage room in the bowels of NRG Stadium stacked tall with windbreakers, jackets, water-proof pants, long-sleeve undershirts and many more items for more than four years.
Texans representative Sean Washington and I had a long-time relationship from when Sean played football at Rice and I was a sportswriter at the Houston Chronicle.
Washington needed someone to give away the items, and chose the Touchdown Club of Houston, for which I work. He oversaw the delivery of hundreds of items to my home.
So with Washington’s blessing, I called area high school coaches — mostly in HISD — and had them come by in trucks. I mean, they all left with so many items they could not see out of their back windows. (We learned that the Texans official color of blue is not navy, but dark obsidian, according to the boxes the jackets were shipped in. Who knew?)
Fifteen high schools came to claim equipment/clothing for their respective programs. One coach, Cornelius McFarland of Wheatley, left with a full truck. But then he called and asked if he could return again. I was a little taken back and asked why. He told me it was because his high school district included downtown and there were a lot of homeless shelters there.
“Some of our kids come from those shelters, and they arrive in the same clothes every day,” McFarland said. “It’s the only clothes they have. So we give them the Texans gear, take their clothes and wash them for them. Without that, they wouldn’t have clean clothes for school.”
Event the underwear, coach?
“Even the underwear.”
Wow, I thought. a degenerate like me was helping the Texans help homeless kids.
I told coach to come back, and he left with another load of clothes.
McFarland said assisting is a part of his job that makes him feel that coaching is a calling. But he sometimes wonders if he can do more.
Some of the kids see self-improvement through athletics, he said, and it also helps them when tackling their grades. But some of the kids move on after a year, and that really bothers McFarland.
“I went searching for some of the kids, and there is no sign of them,” he said. “That is the frustrating part of this job.”
I don’t know about you, but Wheatley and the Texans have become two of my favorite teams, after I have seen the differences they have made in inner-city Houston.
ONE WIN AWAY — The Rockets split their two games in Oklahoma City to leave the state with a commanding 3-1 series lead. James Harden was not at his best on Sunday after “rolling his ankle” Friday, but Nene dominated inside and the Rockets got it done. The series could easily be over; Harden missed a 3 at the buzzer that would have gotten them another win. The Rockets can now close things out at home and turn their attention to the Spurs. (Or Grizzlies, but let’s be real. Spurs).
OLE ALTUVE — The Astros Saturday game at Tampa Bay turned out to be a 6-3 loss, but one play may be what has helped the Astros define their young season so far. On Sunday, Jose Altuve was on second base when Evan Gattis hit a ground to the right side of the infield. Rays reliever Tommy Hunter appeared to pull a hamstring on the play and first baseman Logan Morrison took his time fielding the ball and running to first base to force Gattis out. But Altuve saw that the defensive players were being slow, and Altuve stormed for home. He made it easily to give Houston a 3-2 lead. Houston lost the game, but the unbelievable baserunning was the talk of the game.
According to Major League Baseball’s Statcast, Altuve made it from second base to home in 5.5 seconds. “I took off for third and then I saw Gattis putting the ball in play and the next thing I saw was everybody giving me their back,” Altuve told the Houston Chronicle. “Nobody was looking at me…I got a chance and I went.”
That’s why when the season is only three weeks old, the Astros have won two games after being down by five runs and one game after being down by four. It’s way, way early, and the lack of left-handed pitching could bite them in the butt, but this team is starting down to path toward the playoffs.
NERD ALERT, PART DEAUX — Yes, I was there on May 25, 1977, at a theater in Austin the first day that Star Wars was showed in public. We loved the movie so much that instead of walking out the door after it was over, we shuffled over to the other side of the theater and sat down and watched the movie for free a second time in a row. People cheered each time the Falcon made the jump to hyperspace, because in 1977, damn it, that was an awesome special effect. However, since I wasn’t born yesterday, I refuse to pay $25 today for a T-shirt memorializing the event. I was there
THREE-PART DIY BEAR ATTACK PREVENTION
FREE PAT BEVERLY –– A turd fan harasses an NBA player and the NBA fines the player $25,000. See Jenny Dial Creech’s take on this at: Creech: Despite fine, Rockets’ Pat Beverley handled situation well
CLASSIC OF THE DAY
Chamber music was written to use a few instruments to fill the room with sound. One of the best was Hanel, and his best chamber piece is Water Music, Suite 2, “Alla Hornpipe”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Baseball is a game to be savored rather than taken in gulps. “
— Bill Veeck, former Chicago White Sox owner
HOTTIE OF THE DAY