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Who’s On The Mount Rushmore Of Houston Sports?

The Battle Red Blog crew discussed their views on some Houston sports legends.

Houston Texans vs Tennessee Titans - December 11, 2005 Photo by Joe Murphy/NFLPhotoLibrary

Mout Rushmore is a debatable topic. Always has been. Always will be. Some people think other presidents should hold the honor of appearing on the monument. Others wonder what Teddy Roosevelt ever did that was so special.

Here, as Houston sports fans, we do not talk or care about it. What we DO care about is how Houston athletes are remembered.

So our version of Mount Rushmore does not have any presidents. Instead, it has Dreams, Beards, and other things.

After several BRB staffers gave their input, our results were averaged. This is who would appear on our Mount Rushmore of Houston athletes:

Hakeem Olajuwon: What more is there to say? The Dream took the league by storm, especially when Michael Jordan decided to be a mediocre baseball player. Olajuwon took down Shaquille O’Neal’s Magic and Patrick Ewing’s Knicks en route to consecutive NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. The 12-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA First Team center remains the greatest international player to ever set foot on an NBA court. Coming from Nigeria, he made his way to Houston to play college ball for the Houston Cougars before the Rockets drafted him first overall in 1984. The rest is history. The former league MVP was a walking double-double and is widely regarded as one of the ten or twelve greatest players ever.

J.J. Watt: It is rare that an athlete has embraced a city as much as Watt has embraced Houston, Texas. His philanthropic efforts, highlighted by raising $41.6 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, have made him a cultural icon. He won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2017. That alone might put him on a Houston Mt. Rushmore. Luckily for him, he is also an all-time spectacular football player. He is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and has led the league in sacks twice. Watt has been named as a First Team All-Pro five times and has been the face of the franchise since the interception he returned for a touchdown against the Bengals in the first playoff game in Texans history nearly eight seasons ago. Watt could retire today and be an easy first-ballot Hall of Fame player. When we look back on his career, he will be in the same category as names like Reggie White and Bruce Smith. He is that special.

Jose Altuve: Big things come in small packages. Altuve stands at a measly 5 feet 6 inches. He won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2017 and was the centerpiece to the AstrosWorld Series title that magical season. The Venezuelan second baseman has won three batting titles and is one of only two baseball players to be named the AP Athlete of the Year in the 21st century. Altuve is part of a nucleus in Houston that is built for the next several years, so while his spot on Houston’s Mt. Rushmore is in place, it is far from cemented.

James Harden: The Beard arrived in Houston as part of a heist that sent Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and three draft picks back to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since then, Harden has made the All-Star team every single season and is about to win his second consecutive scoring title. Harden is also one of the favorites to win MVP this season, which would also be his second consecutive trophy in that regard. Harden earns a spot on Mt. Rushmore for the trademark step-back jumper that will go down as one of the most memorable basketball moves in history, right along Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook. Harden was the centerpiece of a Rockets team who almost took down the Golden State Warriors dynasty in 2018 before Chris Paul injured his hamstring. He is still only 29 years of age, and as long as he can continue shaking defenders and drawing fouls, he has plenty left in the tank.

Honorable mentions:

Earl Campbell (Houston Oilers): 1979 NFL MVP, 3x NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 3x rushing champion, 9,407 career rush yards, 1991 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.

Warren Moon (Houston Oilers): 9x Pro Bowler, 1990 NFL Most Valuable Player, 2x passing yards leader, 2006 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

Jeff Bagwell (Houston Astros): 1994 National League MVP, 4x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, 2017 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

Nolan Ryan (Houston Astros): 2x National League ERA leader, 11x strikeout leader, 5,714 career strikeouts, 7 no-hitters, 1999 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

The fun does not stop here, though. It would not be right for the Battle Red Blog crew to create a Houston sports Mount Rushmore without doing one specifically for the Texans.

The results:

J.J. Watt: This is one of two unanimous decisions. The greatest defensive player of the 2010s will go down as one of the greatest to ever do it. Who knows where the Texans franchise would be without him? Watt returned from consecutive season-ending injuries in 2018 and was still named to the NFL All-Pro First Team. His legend continues.

Andre Johnson: ‘Dre is a seven-time Pro Bowler and was named to the All-Pro First Team twice. His size, strength, athleticism, and tremendous hands made him one of the best receivers of the early 2000s. That was while playing with David Carr and Matt Schaub. Johnson cemented his legacy by snatching Cortland Finnegan’s pride and soul in a 2010 game at NRG Stadium. He was a fan favorite from the day he was drafted and will be the first Texan to ever be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Arian Foster: The undrafted running back out of Tennessee was arguably the best in the league for a 3-4 year stretch. A short period of time it was. However, Foster’s ability to dance around defenders, avoid contact, and explode for big games made him a video game character. He led the league in rushing touchdowns twice and rushing yards in 2010. Foster scored the franchise’s first ever playoff touchdown in 2011 and had another 42-yard score in what remains the most memorable game in franchise history.

Duane Brown: The offensive lineman from Virginia Tech was a force to be reckoned with for any defensive lineman. He was a four-time Pro Bowl tackle and received two All-Pro selections, one First Team, and one Second Team. Brown was one of the best in the NFL for a while. The Texans decided to trade him to the Seahawks in October 2017 for some inexplicable reason, and we know what has happened to their offensive line ever since. He was a brick wall most Texans fans would love to have back.

And the lone honorable mention:

DeAndre Hopkins: The wide receiver has been one of the best in the league for the last five seasons. Fortunately for him, he finally has a quarterback. We know what kind of trash Nuk was subjected to for the first four seasons of his career.

Hopkins has been selected to two All-Pro First Teams and one Second Team. He led the league in receiving touchdowns in 2017. Pro Football Focus graded him as the number one wide receiver this last season (2018) and claimed him as the most valuable non-quarterback on offense in the entire league. His route running is impeccable and his hands are like magnets. The best part about this? He is still only 26 years old, and his quarterback is just 23.

Which Houston athletes would be on your Mount Rushmore? What Texans would be on your Texans-only monument?