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Changing The Game: Mario Williams At All-Access


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As you may or may not know, your Houston Texans hosted their annual All-Access extravaganza at Reliant on Wednesday night. I had the good fortune to attend again this year; last year's write-up on the event can be found here (worth a read if for nothing else than to see yet another example of my hatred for the Brian Cushing pick this time a year ago).

One of the coolest things about All-Access is getting to see how the players interact with the fans. You can tell that the vast majority of the Texans truly enjoy getting to meet the folks who fill up the stands; in other words, most of the Texans appear to "get it." The latest example of this phenomenon was two nights ago, and it involved none other than Mario Williams. Details after the jump.

The players typically sign autographs for about an hour and a half. The lines vary; for the stars, the lines are considerably long, whereas an undrafted rookie free agent like Aaron Webster doesn't have much of a line at all. For the high profile guys, I imagine it's entirely possible to wait on the line for an hour and still not get an autograph. Generally, the players sign until they're ushered away by a team official.

As I was waiting in line for a beer, my buddies and I saw Super Mario being ushered away; his time was up. Team officials took him behind a gate and began leading him into a tunnel. As he was walking away, a father and what was presumably his young son, wearing a No. 90 jersey, ran up to the gate, yelling Mario's name, only to be turned away by two team officials. The kid kept begging for Mario to sign his ball, and Mario was far enough away that he could have kept on walking. He could have pretended not to hear the kid, or he could've simply decided he'd put his time in with the fans.

He didn't. Mario heard the kid, turned around, and came back to the gate. He shook the dad's hand, signed the kid's ball, and chatted with the kid for a minute.

When I see stuff like that, I feel obligated to spread the word. Every day, we read stories about athletes who would've kept walking away from that kid and his dad, even at an event that's specifically for the fans. Mario Williams stopped and turned around. That's worth a post and some good publicity.