December 2, 2007. 3rd & 7. Rosenfels is back in the shotgun. The ball is snapped and Rosenfels passes over the middle to Ron Dayne for a short gain. Fred Weary goes down with a knee injury. Back in Houston, Mike Brisiel saw it all on TV. His stomach turned. One of his teammates and good friends was hurt. As he kept watching, he saw Chris White come in and also go down with an injury.
It was a bittersweet day for Mike. He had just seen 3 teammates injured, but in the back of his mind, he knew that the team would be calling him up. He'd been working on the practice squad for 2 years, competing week in and week out for his chance. And when it came, he took it.
Game day came, and Brisiel took the field with the starters. He spent most of the game working against Kevin Carter. Mike said he'd always remember that first game and having to move Carter off the ball because he was so big and had such long arms. Yet as we all saw, the Texans and Mike Brisiel got it done.
We talked about the 31-13 Jedi Master game against the Broncos. Mike said he looked like a big red tomato in the battle red uniforms; specifically, he said that offensive linemen don't have the best bodies on the team, so they looked like tomatoes. It was great to see those Texan tomatoes roll over the Broncos.
Mike Brisiel finished the season strong and had high hopes for next year. Eric Winston said:
Here's your opportunity. That's what it's all about. The NFL is all about consistency. It's nice to have one or two game to end the season on. Then it's like, 'Hey, they are going to give me a good look in camp.' With four games, it's more, 'Hey, if I can finish this season out, they might start me out in camp.
He's very hungry to play well. This should tell you all you need to know about him. He got his nose fractured in two places, and he didn't miss one practice.
Where does the Texans' starting right guard come from? Brisiel is a Dutch name; Mike's great-grandfather immigrated to America. Mike grew up in Arkansas near Fayetteville. His family is mostly Razorbacks. Mike started playing football in 7th grade. By 9th grade, he knew that he wanted to play somewhere other than Arkansas. He was recruited initially by a Colorado State University graduate assistant named Derrick Yule. He sent in his game tapes and they eventually made him a scholarship offer.
Mike Brisiel loved it in Colorado. Growing up in Arkansas, he loved the outdoors and Colorado had plenty to offer him. He loves fishing and fished several lakes and rivers there. During the break between OTAs and training camp, Mike and his family went fishing on Florida beaches. Mike ended up catching a black-tipped shark.
On the field, Mike Brisiel played left tackle and was recognized as an All-Mountain offensive lineman. The Brisiel family supports one another, too. His senior year, Mike's parents would attend every home game. They'd drive 13 hours each way to be there for every home game.
While we were talking about his time at CSU, he told me an interesting story about Klint Kubiak, Gary Kubiak's son. He said that Klint started at safety as a true freshman when he was a senior. Mike said he felt bad for the QBs throwing against him because Klint had grown up watching film with his dad. He could read pro offenses as a freshman in college.
At the Hula Bowl and into the draft, scouts started taking Mike's game apart. They told him he was too lanky to play left tackle in the NFL and that he'd have to move inside. Then, they told him that he was too tall to play guard, so Brisiel was a man without a position. This hurt him in the draft, but has ultimately helped him on the field.
Mike said that when you're the last on the depth chart and just hanging on to a roster spot, you have to be able to do it all. You have to be able to line up anywhere and take snaps. He's played left tackle, both guard positions and center. Wherever he lines up, he can compete.
While he was on the practice squad, he got to experience international football. He played in NFL Europe for the Hamburg Sea Devils. He loved the experience of living and playing in Germany. He told me the fans there were wild. They're soccer fans that also love American football. They'd bring noisemakers and whistles to the game. He said that in the last game he played, there were 50,000 fans in the stands blowing their whistles. He was playing center and the Sea Devils were using a lot of shotgun formations. He couldn't hear the QB or anyone else on the field. He had to look back between his legs and watch for the QB to signal the snap.
So now he's in camp taking snaps as the starting right guard. He's become a proficient bowler since the entire team will have bowling tournaments from time to time. He's bowled a 277. He's ready to go up against guys like Haynesworth and Henderson. He's ready for some football. Are you?