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Culture / Sporting Life

Low Key, Touching Tribute a Fitting Remembrance of No Fuss Billionaire Bob McNair

Texans Get It Right by Keeping It Classy

BY // 11.26.18

The tribute was simple, classy and dignified. It wasn’t showy in the least. In other words, it came across as exactly the type of thing Bob McNair would have wanted.

The billionaire who never put himself above others — the man who brought NFL football back to Houston — was honored by the franchise he founded before the Monday Night Football game against the Tennessee Titans without any overdone theatrics.

Instead, Texas A&M University’s Singing Cadets choir belted out a powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace” in a darkened stadium as Texans fans held up homemade signs of remembrance for the owner who fought skin cancer for years. There was also a video tribute played on the giant scoreboards — and one shown on ESPN nationally before its game broadcast.

The simpleness of the tribute did not make it unemotional. Some Texans fans teared up during the moment.

McNair’s wife and longtime partner in life, Janice McNair, watched the game from home with close friends three days after the death of her husband at age 81. McNair’s son Cal McNair did attend — and Cal and his wife Hannah shared a moment before the game, appreciating the RCM logos (McNair’s initials) painted on the field in football shapes at the 25-yard lines.

One longtime Texans fan held up a sign that read, “Thank You Bob. Houston Hero Hero — Forever in Our Hearts.” Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson also spent a moment kneeling on one of the two RCM logos in the pregame.

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Whatever your feelings on the 81-year-old McNair’s immense and complicated legacy — one that includes $500 million in lifetime giving to charitable causes — there is no disputing that without him Houston does not get an NFL team back in 1999. In fact without McNair’s sheer determination and belief it could be done, Los Angeles probably has an NFL team long before the Rams finally returned.

Still, Bob McNair never needed a lot of fuss — though there was serious talk about erecting a statue of him outside of NRG Stadium during Houston’s long-awaited Super Bowl week back in February 2017. This is a guy who would have been pleased by a choir’s beautiful, heartfelt rendition of a faithful song in the darkened stadium he helped secure.

Seeing his Texans turn a 10-0 deficit into a 24-10 advantage with three quick touchdowns, including a franchise record 97-yard run from Lamar Miller, would have meant even more. Explosive plays can be touching too.

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