Yesterday, I went to the Houston Texans Team Luncheon with some friends. The Texans hold it every year to kick off the upcoming season and to benefit the Houston Texans Foundation. I try to go to as many Texans events as I can, and this one is usually pretty fine because a player sits at your table and you can visit with them awhile.
So I am on my way to the hotel ballroom, and my friend Diane calls me on my cell. "ERIC WINSTON is sitting at our table!"
For thems who don't know, Eric Winston is the rookie offensive lineman from Miami who was drafted by the Texans in the 3rd round. Most draft poobahs loved the pick. Getting to chat with the players is always fun, but some are more fun to chat with than others. He was cool. We didn't have much time to talk , because they made the luncheon quicker than previous years because of the game today and the short week. Starters won't be playing much against Tampa Bay, but Winston should.
The thing that is oft brought up when talking about him is the "Caveman" comparison. No, we did not have the roast duck with the mango salsa (video). When you are chatting with him he doesn't seem cavemaneque at all, just a guy who is funny and has nice BS. Apparently, from what I've seen in interviews he doesn't particularly care for that nickname, and I wasn't about to bring it up because A. it would be rude and 2. It doesn't really suit him.
So here's some of the random stuff we talked about::
New System. He says he loves Kubiak's offensive system and believes it is very player friendly.
Coaching. He likes Gary Kubiak a ton but on a day to day basis he doesn't work much with him. He deals more with Assistant Coach Mike Sherman and Offensive Line Coach John Benton. Kubiak works more with the skill players.
In previous years, the players had to wear suits to the luncheon, but this year they were dressed more business casual, like most of the crowd. Kubiak's call. This makes sense given all the stuff they are having to do and the fact that it is a milliondy degrees outside. This is one of many player friendly things that Kubiak has changed this year.
His Place on the Line. He has worked mostly at learning the right tackle position. He says from a technique perspective it is totally different than the left side that he played in college. Recently, he has worked some on the left tackle position, to see if he can act as a swing tackle for depth.
NFL Allegiance. I was worried because he is from Midland whether he would be a diehard Cowboy fan. Turns out he has a contrarian streak. He was a 49er fan growing up. This is yet another reason to root for him. I cordially invite various people from Midland to become Texans fans if they are not already.
Computer Journals. I was talking about the blog I do here and for the Houston Chronicle, and he mentioned the series of journal articles he worked on for the Midland Reporter Telegram. (here is the best I can do for a link) They are a pretty interesting read, especially when he talks about the combine process and agents and preparing for the NFL. What might be interesting to you Texans fans is one of the answers to his FAQ article, about his knee:
For the few who do not know, I injured my left knee in the fourth game of last season against Georgia Tech. It was a season-ending injury in which I tore several ligaments, needed surgery and eight months of intense rehab everyday to come back from it. In short, my knee feels awesome. I was so lucky that I had what some people think is the one of the best orthopedic doctors in the nation (Dr. Uribe) do my surgery. I was also very lucky to have a great physical therapist (Ed Garibedian) handle the first part of my rehab. Ed was the same therapist that worked with former Miami running back Willis McGahee after his injury and since our injuries were similar, he had a great program for me. I also owe Cory Bennett, my former athletic trainer at Miami, for handling the second phase of my rehab that dealt with heavy lifting and running. If you guys read this, know that I will always be grateful for everything you did for me.
I didn't ask him about his knee because just about the last thing you should ask a player about is an injury. It's boring, and I'm sure they get tired of people asking about it. The knee is what allowed the Texans to take him in the 3rd round, instead of the first round like he probably should have been without the injury.
Pink Jerseys. We got talking about womens fan fashion because uh, of the customized Texans clothes I was wearing (I like fashion stuff as much as sports). I told him that most NFL clothes for women were frumpy and boring. He responded that they now sell pink jerseys.
This is Paris' rugby team. Seriously >>>>>
It is such a guy thing to think that they can take an ill-fitting rag and make it pink, and then say tada it's now for women. Rightfully, there is no freaking NFL team that wears pink jerseys, and I'm not either. And I don't use any stinking pink golf balls either. (Digression, I am sorry, but if anyone from the NFL is reading this, for the love all that is holy, most of your licensed merchandise for chicks is ug. ly. Please fix that. Digression #2, turns out that mjd has recently declared how wrong pink NFL jerseys are. I had no idea he was gonna do that--I thought I was the only one that thought those were silly).
Anyhow, the media tends to focus on players who are donkeys. (No need for a link for that, you know who they are). Just wanted to share my minor story about someone that seems to be a super nice guy. Oh, and Eric, if you are reading, "Hi!"