Texans host soldiers as part of military week

October 15, 2010 2:43:25 PM PDT
About 100 soldiers, some who were wounded in combat, mingled with Houston Texans players and coaches after Thursday's practice as part of the team's week honoring the military. The local USO branch unveiled a statue recognizing the Texans' commitment to veterans. A group of wounded soldiers toured Reliant Stadium and met players on Tuesday.

"Most of us go about our day without thinking about the sacrifice that other people make for us," Texans owner Bob McNair said. "This really brings it home. You have a chance to visit with them and learn of their losses, and their friends who didn't come back. They do it to preserve our freedom, and we owe to them any and everything we can do."

The Texans (3-2) will host about 350 soldiers and their families at Sunday's military-themed game against Kansas City (3-1).

Former president George H.W. Bush, who owns a home in the Houston area, will serve as an honorary captain. Members of the U.S. Army's Golden Knights will parachute into the stadium before the kickoff and the Marine Corps' Silent Drill Platoon will perform at halftime.

Col. Mark Campsey, commander of the 72nd Infantry Brigade based in Houston, recently returned with 3,000 soldiers from a tour in Iraq and thanked McNair.

KRIV-TV reported that the Texans are picking up all the expenses related to the military-themed events this week. A USO spokeswoman said three other unidentified teams wanted to host similar events, but wanted to charge a fee.

"The Texans reaching out and going so far above and beyond -- they serve as great role models and let soldiers know that people really care about what they do," Campsey said.

The team also hosted members of the military in last year's game against San Francisco.

"It means a lot," Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think it kind of makes them (the Texans) stop and see how fortunate they are and what they get an opportunity to do in their life and the lives they get the opportunity to touch and support. I think it's a good day for them."

Army soldiers dressed in camouflage, sailors adorned in white uniforms and Coast Guard officers wearing matching blue watched the Texans practice on Thursday. Kubiak and his players patiently signed autographs and posed for photos with the soldiers afterward.

"It's pretty cool and pretty special," linebacker Brian Cushing said. "It's a privilege for us to see them out here. The guys were just happy to just come out and watch some football. Anything we can do to help those guys, we're more than willing to do it."


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