Gary Petersen, Wade Smith, Janice & Bob McNair, Andre Johnson
NFL Hall of Famers in their coveted gold blazers.
A humble Bob McNair talks football at Luminaries of the Game.
Chris Berman talks to Earl Campbell and Anthony Munoz on the big stage.
Bob McNair, Ric Campo, Mark Berman, Jamey Rootes
Earl Campbell, Joni Baird
Michael Jordan has one. Nick Saban does too. Now, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair is joining the ultra-rare ranks of sports figures with a statue of themselves in a prominent locale. The giant-sized bronze McNair will stand eight feet tall and weigh more than a 1,000 pounds.
Harris County officials tell PaperCity that for the McNair statue to be in the NRG Park complex — which is owned and controlled by the county — the Texans would have to present a plan and have it approved and they note that no one from the team has even approached them yet.
While the statue may have been revealed in a rush of Super Bowl week excitement, its location is still to be determined for now. One thing’s clear though. McNair brought NFL football back to Houston — and now, he’ll be forever immortalized in this city.
There are a number of NFL owner statues outside of stadiums, but many of those were posthumous honors. McNair is one of the few owners to get the statue nod while living (Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson also got to enjoy seeing their statues go up).
But it’s doubtful that any owner got the news in a cooler manner than McNair.
It came at the end of the Luminaries of the Game gala — one of the premier events of Super Bowl week, one where tables went for as much as $150,000 — late Wednesday night when former Texans (and McNair favorites) Andre Johnson and Wade Smith wheeled a smaller model of the statue out onto an elaborate stage. McNair embraced both former players before telling the crowd of more than 1,000 heavy hitters and NFL royalty that he was “really overwhelmed.”
Moments later, McNair sat on stage with ESPN’s Chris Berman for a more lighthearted look at the statue model.
“Well, it probably makes me look better than I am,” McNair deadpanned when asked about the statue’s likeness of him. “So I find it pretty acceptable.”
The statue shows McNair in a suit with a football tucked under his right arm. This bronze version of McNair still has some hair, but it will be hard pressed to match the dignity of the real man.
This celebration of football — 51 Hall of Famers graced the stage and received individual introductions from the never-at-a-loss-for-words Berman — turned into a celebration of Bob and Janice McNair. But even after all the tributes (including a video of Barbara Bush wondering why the McNairs insisted on naming a building at Columbia College they donated the funds for after her rather than one of them), the Texans owner tried to talk about all the other people who deserved credit.
On this night, there was plenty of sharing of the wealth.
The gala put on by the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee raised $4 million for Touchdown Houston, the host committee’s charitable giving program. “In fact, I’m going to rename this room, The Million Dollar Room,” honorary co-chair Lynn Wyatt quipped while revealing the mammoth figure raised.
This signature nearly 40,000-square-foot ballroom in the new Marriott Marquis Houston hotel certainly has never seen a gathering quite like this before. Former Secretary of State James Baker III (the other honorary co-chair), NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Houston Host Committee chairman Ric Campo, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett all took the stage.
And oh yeah, Texas football legend Earl Campbell told stories. “Being single living in Southwest Houston, everything was a lot of fun,” Campbell laughed, recalling his free-living Houston Oiler years.
In the end though, it was a celebration of Houston in its Super Bowl spotlight moment. “Yes, it’s true, sometimes we do produce mosquitoes the size of B-52 bombers,” Baker said. “Nevertheless, this is a damn fine place to live.” And it was also a celebration of the McNairs.
It seemed fitting to end it with Andre Johnson — who has a chance to become the first Houston Texan ever elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame — revealing the McNair statue to the man himself in a room full of Hall of Famers.
Bob McNair does look good in bronze. And you thought J.J. Watt was going to get the first Houston Texans’ statue?
For much more on the gala, the McNair statue and the Hall of Famers, including a full photo gallery of the night, come back to PaperCityMag.com.