Houston Football – History You Should Know

April 27th, 2014

Houston has a rich and proud history of professional sports. With football being such an important part of life in Texas, the city of Houston boasts a rich tradition of professional football going back 50 years. With the loss of the Oilers in 1996 it was only a matter of time before pro football would be restored to the city and its loyal fans.

The first professional football team in Houston was the Houston Oilers. The team was started in 1959 by owner Bud Adams who was also a co-founder of the AFL. The Houston Oilers took part in the first ever AFL championship match and beat the then Los Angeles Chargers to claim the title. The oilers and their fans continued to enjoy many years of football in Houston before their owner decided to unceremoniously move the team to Tennessee in 1996 with the lure of a new state of the art stadium which they moved into in 1998. Despite huge public outcry against the move the owner decided to move the team anyway and pay millions to the city of Houston for damages for the loss of the team to the city. With football being such a huge part of Texas it would not be long before professional football would be returned to the city of Houston and their great and loyal fans. However, it was not easy to get a new team and many obstacles had to be overcome before the NFL would grant Houston with a new franchise.

In 1997 the now current majority owner Bob Mcnair began a push to bring professional football back to Houston by establishing a new organization called Houston NFL Holdings. In 1998 the NFL announced that it had narrowed its search for a new location for its 32nd franchise to three possible locations. These were Toronto, Los Angeles and Houston. Los Angeles quickly became the front runner to get the new franchise mainly because of its huge media market. Houston officials announced that they would build a new domed stadium as part of their plan to compete for the new franchise. At the same time entertainment guru Michael Ovitz announced plans to a new state of the art stadium in Los Angeles. Both Mcnair and Ovitz would put pressure on the NFL to make a decision on the new franchise by early 1999 so as to keep public support from waning. Meanwhile Ovitz would receive competition in his own market from real estate developer Ed Roski whose proposal involved renovating the Los Angeles coliseum.

In early 1999 the NFL owners voted in favor of Los Angeles with their decision being contingent on the city putting together an acceptable ownership team and stadium deal. If they were not able to accomplish this, the NFL announced it would then turn its attention to awarding Houston with the new franchise.

Subsequently the city of Los Angeles decided it would not permit tax dollars to be used to help build a new stadium and neither Roski nor Orwitz were willing to work together or build a new stadium on private financing alone. Since Houston was prepared to build a brand new state of the art stadium, they then became the front runner to get the new NFL franchise. Despite late efforts by Los Angeles to secure a deal the NFL finally decided to award Houston with the new team in October of 1999 and accepted Mcnairs 700 million dollar offer as well as award Houston with the 2004 Super Bowl.

Thanks to persistence and hard work professional football had been restored to Houston where it belongs. The new franchise would decide upon the name Houston Texans after receiving permission to use the name from Lamar Hunt who had previously founded the name Dallas Texans and which later would become the Kansas City Chiefs. With former Denver Bronco assistant Gary Kubiak now in place as the head coach and quarterback Matt Schaub signed, the Houston Texans hope to establish a winning tradition for years to come. Along with their loyal fans they are looking toward the new season as a breakthrough year.

Allure of Texas High School Football

April 27th, 2014

Even if you’ve never been to a Texas high school football game, you probably know that these games and the fans who follow them are somewhat different than other high school football games and fans. In Texas, football isn’t a sport and it isn’t an extra-curricular activity. No, it’s almost been elevated to the level of a religion. To say that Texas high school football fans are passionate about the spot would be an understatement; a huge understatement.

Friday Night Lights may have been first a popular book and then a film but it all started with the true story of one season with the Odessa Permian Panthers. Hollywood didn’t need to pump up the real life story of this Texas high school team with fabrication; the real story was already enough of a legend to carry it all the way to the silver screen.

If you think you know high school football, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen it from the Lone Star State. Even the smaller schools really get involved. It’s not uncommon to see entire caravans traveling the Texas highways on Friday nights; the football team, drill team, cheerleaders, marching band and sponsor. All of that can easily require a dozen buses or so. And that’s not even including the hordes of parents and fans that travel right along with them. In relatively few other events will you see devoted fans travel hundreds of miles for a playoff game; and keep in mind that in Texas that’s entirely possible. The border from east to west stretches almost one thousand miles.

So, what is it exactly about Texas high school football in particular that seems to appeal to such a mass audience? While there may be no definitive answer for that question, there is definitely one certainty: nothing else on earth has quite the same intensity and passion to it. You can feel it reverberating in the air when you step into any high school football stadium throughout the state.

High school football fans in Texas are not just passionate about football; they live it and breathe it. On any given Friday night during football season in Texas you’re likely to see just about as much violence in the stands as you are on the turf if one fan happens to aggravate another.

And that’s not even mentioning the rivalry that can take place between teams in Texas. While it’s not uncommon at all for neighboring towns throughout the country to form high school football rivalries, Texans take it to a whole new level. In many cases, extra policeman have to be called out during big rival games just to keep the peace among the crowd. In a few instances, some towns had to stop even playing one another at all because of the violence that ensued between fans in the stands and on the sidelines during rival games.

The exact allure of Texas high school football may be somewhat difficult to describe, but one thing is certain: you feel it when you experience it.

If the rest of the world loves soccer, Texans love football.

“Varsity Blues” Review – One of the best Texas High School Football Film

April 26th, 2014

Having seen a lot of sports movies that were over-hyped, over-rated and under-performed, it was a nice change of pace to watch “Varsity Blues“, a football movie that actually had a message worth watching as well as some good acting along with the usual comedic moments and turf violence.

Most sports movies are mindless to the point of being pure, often profanity-laced entertainment-they are something to watch to pass the time of day, but you will not become a better person for having seen them because there is no message, much less a meaningful message. Varsity Blues is different because this is not a typical Texas high school football story.

In Texas, football teams do not play games, they engage in serious, civilized warfare. Since massive killing and scorched Earth practices are not accepted in modern society, Texas fans and their teams seek the next best result-win EVERY bloody game, hopefully with total domination so there is no need for bragging rights.

This would be true for the West Canaan Coyotes, whose coach Bud Kilmer (Jon Voight) is seeking his 23rd division title in 35 years of coaching. Kilmer has been around long enough to coach his former players’ sons, and then some. He is so driven, focused, nasty and determined enough to win that he will sacrifice the very health of his own players to get the job done.

Jon Voight is perfect in this role. Kilmer is self-centered, self-absorbed and extremely needy for power, adulation and turf success. Football is close to religion in Kilmer’s world, and he is god. One of Kilmer’s mottos is “Never show weakness, the only pain that matters is the pain you inflict.”

When his star quarterback, Lance Harbor (Paul Walker), is injured because he was playing when he should not have even been on the field, his replacement, John Moxon (James Van Der Beek) must step into the leadership role.

Even though he is a Texas high school football player with some talent, Moxon is everything he should not be-football is not his priority, he wants to go to college to get an education rather than play football, and he gets caught reading a novel hidden in the play book he is supposed to be studying. Funny thing is, he leads the team right up to the championship game. What happens in the climatic ending to this film is the reason you should be watching.

James Van Der Beek picked up some notice as John Moxon in Varsity Blues. The film itself and the rest of the cast were ignored by virtually all award-givers everywhere. What remains is the message of Varsity Blues, which puts it head and shoulders above most mindless sports movies. You must be able to tolerate the usual foul language, crude jokes, nudity, sexual titillation, drug use and violence to appreciate what happens to the coach, the fill-in quarterback and his teammates.

Varsity Blues was written by W. Peter lliff (not a misspelling on the last name), and directed by Brian Robbins. Both deserve credit for lifting Varsity Blues up to a higher level beyond sheer, mindless entertainment.