PRESIDENT JAMEY ROOTES
What does this golf tournament stand for?
“This is the 15th annual Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic. Good chance for us to raise money for an important causes across our community. We talk about the Champions for Youth initiatives. This year’s event will raise $380,000. Since inception, we are at almost $5 million dollars. Overall, in our Champions of Youth support, we are at over $27 million dollars. We talk about three things as an organization: win championships, create memorable experiences and do great things for Houston. This is one way that we give back to the community that supports us so well.”
Can you bring us up to date on Houston trying to get the NFL Draft?
“Houston is in the mix among a number of other cities to be considered for the draft. We had representatives up at the draft in Philadelphia. It would be a spectacular event for our community. You saw what we did for the Super Bowl; Discovery Green was Super Bowl central, and we could replicate that for the draft. We had representatives up at the draft in Philadelphia to get an eyes-on view of the requirements in hopes that at some point in time we are asked to bid. I think Houston would be a very, very valuable spot for the National Football League to locate the draft.”
So, it’s not likely that it would come last year?
“Sometime in the future. It’s on their timetable. The way the process works is the committee evaluates all of the cities that are available and then they decide which ones they want to give an opportunity to bid. Hopefully, at some point in time, we get a chance to do that. We saw that with the Super Bowl when we got our chance. We stepped to the plate and made it happen. That was one of the greatest Super Bowls of all time, not just on the field but what happened in the community.”
Are there any upgrades in the works at NRG Stadium?
“Absolutely. As an organization we look at the fan experience at the end of the year based on the feedback that we get. J.D. Powers have been working with us from the very beginning. We also have our observations. We have a long list of things that we want to do to make the experience even better. Our fans expectations rise over time. The industry evolves over time and we have to rise to that challenge. (In) 2017, we will be introducing a whole slew of improvements. One in particular, our friends over at Aramark in partnership with us – last year we invested $20 million dollars, this year another $8 million to improve the food and beverage experience. But that’s not all. There’s a whole slate of improvements that we will be introducing this year.”
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS AND GENERAL MANAGER RICK SMITH
What do you think about being at the 15th Annual Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic and raising money for youth?
“This is obviously one of the favorite things to do each year. Over the years when you start to think about the amount of money that the foundation has raised and been able to donate for the various causes and things that are near to our heart here in Houston, it’s significant. (I’m) appreciative always of our players to come out and do this. Just a fun day.”
What do you think about the progress QB Tom Savage has made as he prepares for his opportunity?
“Well, Tommy’s smart. He’s got all the ingredients that are necessary to play quarterback at our level. He’s intelligent. He works hard. He’s got the athletic ability. And the opportunities that he’s had, he’s done well with them. It’s just a function of having the opportunity to be there consistently. I think he will continue to get better. I think he’s got all of those traits and I think the more he plays and the more experience that he gains, the better he’ll be.”
How important is the process of bringing in undrafted free agents?
“We’ve had some success in that part of the process in terms of signing players that have come in and contributed to our football team. It’s how you round your roster out, so it’s a very important part of the process. So yeah, it is and we’ve had some success. So hopefully this group that we have coming in – and we have guys that will be in next weekend that we did not sign to contracts. So often times you will even see some of the guys that come in on a tryout basis earn the right to have a contract, so you’ll see a little bit of roster movement in those cases as well.”
What are you looking for from rookies on the field?
“You’re looking for a multitude of things. I think you look for, athletically first of all, are they what you thought they were athletically? And then you’re evaluating how they are taking in all the information and how they’re working and how they react to the situations and the stresses of all the things that are demanded of them. So you’re looking at all those things, you’re trying to see how they process information, how good of shape they’re in – all those things that give you an idea of what the young man might be when he’s a veteran.”
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Can you talk about rookie minicamp and what you hope to get out of that?
“Those guys will be coming in on Thursday. It’s part evaluation, its part installation. There’s a lot of work to be done with these guys but we have about 45-plus guys coming in, so some of it is evaluation. We’ve had a number of guys over the years since we’ve been here that have been on our 53 that were undrafted (or) tryout guys. Then some of it is installation and how much we can get in with these guys. It’s a fairly long weekend for them.”
How important is to have those undrafted and tryout guys contribute?
“Look, I think at the end of the day, we try to evaluate on everybody, whether they’re veterans here right now or rookies coming in. We’re just looking for guys that come in here and really understand what we’re trying to do. They can contribute in their own way. They understand their roles early on and they figure, ‘Hey, I’m going to try and embrace this role and do the best I can with the role that I have.’ Then once they do that, then they can grow into another role. It’s just all about kind of getting in there and getting to work.”
How much do you get to evaluate those undrafted and tryout guys before they get to the Texans?
“That’s a good question. We’ve watched a ton of tape on a lot of these guys. But there are – just speaking for myself – several guys that I’ve had to catch up with since the draft. Some of the guys that are tryout guys, some of the guys that are undrafted guys. Now, our coaching staff has watched a ton of film on these guys. I’m the one that needs to catch up because I haven’t been able to watch every single guy. I think we’ve got a good group of kids coming in and we’re really excited about working with them.”
Fans are excited about QB Deshaun Watson. As a coach, do you get excited about seeing a guy like that?
“Sure. We’re excited to see Deshaun. We’re excited to see all these guys. I’m excited to see the kid from Bucknell, which I learned to pronounce his name correctly. It’s Julién (“Julie-OWN”) Davenport. I’ll make sure I get that right next weekend. But I’m looking forward to seeing Deshaun, I’m looking forward to seeing all the guys that are here. I think the big thing is – yes, we’ve watched them in college and they’ve had good careers in college – but this is a big step. This is a big jump and there’s a big difference between playing against certain college programs relative to now you’re lining up against these guys every day. But we are excited to get going with them.”
You always talk about how it doesn’t matter how a player got here, drafted or undrafted, but it’s about what they do when they arrive. What do you think it means to the players to hear that?
“I think that’s a better question for a lot of these guys out here. I’ll tell you, though, that’s really something that we really try to strive for. Now, clearly when you draft a guy in the first round or the second round, we’re going to give that guy a chance. I think after that though, it’s all about what you do when you get here, meaning even the first and second rounders have had to pay their dues here. They’re in the blue lockers just like every other rookie, and I think the big thing for us is – and we’ve proven this as a staff. I mean, I don’t think there any question that we’ve proven our ability to develop players here and give these guys the opportunity to come in here and show us what they can do and then reward them with playing time down the road if they show us that they can help us.”
QB TOM SAVAGE
Can you talk about the 15th Annual Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic and helping the Houston Texans raise money today?
“This is awesome. It’s an awesome opportunity for us to go out there and raise some money for the guys. Great opportunity.”
QB Deshaun Watson said you sent him a text after he was drafted. What was that text like?
“I just shot him a text. I congratulated him and his family. I mean, it’s an incredible honor to get drafted in the first round. I told him that the only thing that matters to me ultimately is that we win. So, let’s just go to work.”
You’ve worked many years to get an opportunity like this. How do you feel about that?
“I’m super excited. I’m very excited. I know it’s going to be a battle. You have to go out there and you have to perform at all times, especially at this position, and I know that, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien named you the starting quarterback after the draft. What does that do for your confidence level?
“Listen, I’m going to go out there and I’m going to play like I have to play to keep this job. I mean, you have to earn it every day to be the starter. I mean, it doesn’t matter if a coach says you’re the starter. You have to go out there and you have to perform. I know that, and that’s the attitude I have.”
Do you ever think back to when you were dry-walling and how far you have come?
“Yeah. That was an interesting time in my life. But, no, I think it kind of instilled some really good traits in me. I think I learned a lot from that whole deal. Nothing better than going up 10 flights of stairs to go get tools for your dad that he doesn’t feel like going down and getting. This is a dream come true to go out here and play in the NFL and get an opportunity to start.”
DE J.J. WATT
Can you talk about the 15th Annual Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic and helping the Houston Texans raise money today?
“It’s great. It’s always fun. It’s cool all the guys come out here and buy into it and obviously raise a ton of money for kids. So, it’s a lot of fun. It’s great that the team does this, that Mr. McNair is so generous to put it on. I know he’s incredibly generous. He and Janice (McNair) are so incredibly generous with their time and money. We’re very fortunate to have such a good owner.”
Is there a lot of trash talk leading up to your charity softball game on Saturday?
“It’s getting very heated. Now guys are starting to get practice sessions in for Saturday’s softball game. We start to bring softballs and gloves out to NRG to practice in the practice fields at the end of the day. Guys are starting to get in – I’ve noticed shipments of like – honest to god, Kareem (Jackson) has at least two brand new baseball gloves and at least two brand new pairs of cleats. It’s unbelievable. I mean, it’s incredible. So, it’s getting heated. The cup just made its first appearance at my house and I looked at the totals and it is 2-2. The series is tied 2-2. Offense won last year, 4-3. So, it’s going to be a big one, guys. I don’t know if you guys realize this. I mean, I know the NBA playoffs are going on, but there’s a pretty big softball game on Saturday, so get ready.”
Can you tell the group who is throwing the first pitch at the softball game on Saturday?
“I can’t say whose throwing out the first pitch, but I can say – I’ll give it to you. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be coming to the game. He’s going to be out there. I’m working on some logistics. I have something really cool in mind for him, so I’m trying to see if we can do it. But, Arnold will be coming and then Simone Manuel will also be involved – the Olympic gold medalist. So, we’re really excited about that. It’s an incredible event, so hopefully everybody comes out.”