When you announced that you will no longer be a Houston Texan, the hearts of Houston sports fans broke. You are a key component to what makes our sports so unique. I get it, you deserve more, but the loss stings more than I thought it would.
That sting is more painful because I am a mom with a football-obsessed son. He knows your stats, he watches your games, and he admires your perseverance. I tell him often that when it comes to idolizing a player, make sure it’s one who is strong off the field, too. That is why we support him digging into your stats and watching your games.
He watched you as a super hero – using your powers to sack the quarterback and make sure no one gets to the outside. He studied clips of you dominating and playing at such a high level, wondering if he could one day play like that, too.
He watched you suffer injuries that would sideline most players, and he watched your unwavering commitment to get back on the field. He learned that effort makes things happen. He saw that these limitations exist, yet we can meet our goals despite the hardships.
Then, he watched you step up for your city when the flood waters rose higher and higher. He clung to your determination that we would be okay, we would rebuild. You gave us all hope, and you eased the fears of young kids who weren’t sure how we would move forward. You once again proved my point that heroes are made off the field, too.
My son has learned what it means to be a winner, and what it means when you lose. You can lose with grace, yet you can speak your mind when things need to be remedied. He has learned that it’s not all about you sometimes; you need to give credit to each teammate. You need to give back to the community who helped build you.
He starts a new football season soon. He will struggle, and he may want to quit because he’s not the right size or the other team has more experience. But, he’s lucky he has players to think about – the ones, like you, who power on with fire before every single game.
When you announced that you are moving on to new things, he didn’t want to watch your “thank you” video. He said he wasn’t ready just yet to think of you somewhere else. But, I watched it. And he was on my mind the whole time. Your words, your honesty, and your love for Houston are evident. Often, as moms, our pre-teens don’t want to listen to mom or hear our pep talks. So, thank you for being our voices for those tough chats.
You may not be a Texan anymore, but I will still use you as an example when he’s playing a game, dealing with a bully, or for when he thinks it is just too hard. I will use you as an example of community, truth, and leadership.
So, while our hearts break, we wish you nothing but continued success. Thank you, JJ. From this football mom and many others like me.
Now, go love your new city like you have loved us. Houston is forever grateful.