Tonight was the annual "All-Access" extravaganza at Reliant Stadium. In short, it's the organization's yearly thank-you to its season ticket base. Fans get to show up, meet some of the players and coaching staff, get autographs, chow down on some free food and drinks, and listen to team representatives talk about how Texans fans are the greatest in the world. It's a nice deal, if for no other reason than the fact that it's the one designated day each year that the organization attempts to reimburse, albeit incrementally, all of the fans who fill Reliant and plunk down their hard earned money year after year, regardless of the seemingly interminable wait for a playoff appearance. Ever intrepid blogger that I am (read: there was free food and drinks, for chrissakes), I ventured back to Reliant and was struck by the following:
1. Brian Cushing is still sporting that damn ponytail. I won't pretend that I can be anything close to unbiased when it comes to Cushing. Not even going to try. I will say, however, that I found myself getting angry just at the thought of him sporting that Steven Seagal look come the preseason. And I say that as someone who thinks this scene is perhaps the greatest cinematic moment of my generation.
2. Guess which Texans player had the shortest autograph line (at least that I saw)? Clue: He's a former first-round pick. Clue: His most famous play as a professional football player involved his knee and a QB's head. That's right--Travis Johnson. I briefly thought about getting his John Hancock in the name of gallows humor, much like when I got Phillip Buchanon's autograph at DFW immediately after he was torched for 900 yards at Dallas a few years back (he was cut the very next day; I still have the article and autograph in my office...both will be framed eventually). Then I realized that I'd hate myself for getting Travis Johnson's autograph under any circumstance.
3. Gary Kubiak was personable and extraordinarily likable to every fan I saw him encounter. His signature also resembles that of a kindergarten student with a marker.
4. Glover Quin is bigger than I thought he'd be. This is intriguing.
5. Troy Nolan was absolutely ecstatic to be there. Even though the guy's a long shot to make this team, little stuff like that will make me root for him.
6. My buddy asked David Anderson about his mother's cookies, to which DA replied that he was spoiled by how tasty they were and that he had to watch how many he ate, lest he become fat. That will make you snicker if you listen to 1560. Anderson also asked a young girl whether her No. 8 jersey said "Carr" or "Schaub" on the back. I now badly want to drink a beer or ten with David Anderson.
7. I thought long and hard about getting Jacoby Jones' autograph, purely for the opportunity to hand him a ball while remarking, "Don't drop it!" Sadly, I needed a drink, and I decided thirst trumped comedy.
8. A bunch of the players--Super Mario, Schaub, Andre Johnson, Chester Pitts, Steve Slaton, and Antonio Smith, to name a few--got up on stage and were introduced by Rick Smith. DeMeco Ryans was not among them. This makes sense, considering his contract situation, but I really think his presence would've only underscored the "he's-a-good-guy-and-great-player-pay-him-already" mojo he's been banking by showing up at OTAs.
9. Is there anyone among you who actually likes the Houston Texans Pep Band? Because I've never met a single soul who does, and I can't understand why a professional football team would feature a band. This isn't college.
10. Judging by the slogan emblazoned on the t-shirts sported by the players, the 2009 official team slogan is "Be There." Now, I consider this an improvement over "I'm A Texan," but can't we do better than that? I hereby challenge BRB--leave your suggested team marketing slogan in the Comments below.