The president of the Houston Texans, Jamey Rootes, has had a busy year; leading the franchise through COVID-19, a search for a coach and general manager, as well as writing a book.
For Rootes, leading through adversity is one of the main themes of “The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continued Business Success.”
His career journey has been unique. Rootes played college soccer at Clemson and spent time as a soccer coach at Indiana University while pursuing his MBA. After working for prominent businesses in Ohio and serving as the general manager of the Columbus Crew, Rootes moved to Houston and has been with the Texans since the franchise’s inception. Every job has taught him something different and it’s all in his new book.
Rootes, a Georgia native, had wanted to write a book close to a decade. It was his mother who ultimately became the deciding factor.
“My mom was a librarian,” Rootes said, smiling. “She’s now retired and is here in Houston in an assisted living facility, so I think she’s going to think it’s really cool that her son is published.”
The other deciding factor happened at the NFL owners meeting this past December.
“It’s always very traditional,” Rootes said.
Each year, he sits across from the Atlanta Falcons. Greg Beadles, the Falcons executive vice president, had a question that Rootes didn’t know how to answer.
“He said ‘Well, kind of like us, you’ve had some good years, but you’ve had a lot of bad years, but every time I get the reports from the metrics in the league, you are always on the top. How did you get there?’ I thought about it, and I didn’t really have a good answer,” he said.
Rootes decided to write the book and lay out his principles, “that have driven the success of the Houston Texans over two decades despite our record.”
With Rootes working on the business side of the franchise, success certainly isn’t all about winning and losing. In fact, the Texans are consistently ranked by Forbes as one of the top valued NFL teams.
The book elaborates on the strategies Rootes uses for success, outlining his specific approach. Rootes suggests the book for those in management, as well as Texans fans, who can find behind-the-scenes stories of the franchise.
“If you’re a Texans fan, how often do you get to go behind-the-scenes of your favorite team? There are stories in there where you’ll say, ‘I think I know what happened, but now I really know what happened,’” Rootes explained.
Leadership has never been more important than it is in the age of COVID. The Texans were one of the first teams to create a solid plan; such as hiring a full-time facility hygiene coordinator, deep-cleaning facilities, and spacing out players.
The COVID plan also included Rootes' people-first mentality.
“From day one, we’re not talking about layoffs,” he said. “We’re not talking about furloughs. You step back and you say, ‘okay, great, we’re going to see a good day at some point, what do we need to do between now and then?’”
Rootes is optimistic about next season.
“I do anticipate that next fall, it’s going to be very similar to what we’ve enjoyed for the last 20 years with Houston Texans football,” he said.
The Texans are also searching for their next general manager and head coach. When asked what leadership qualities the Texans are looking for, Rootes elaborated on the intangibles.
“You really do want a leader of men. If I had one thing that makes for a leader, it’s authenticity. Low-ego, high emotional intelligence, the ability to navigate adversity and success with just an even keel. You think about the coaches you respect; that’s one of the things they have in common.”
When talking about his mother, who helped inspire him to write the book, Rootes tries to be light-hearted about a situation so many face with their aging parents.
“I hope this doesn’t sound insensitive, but my mom has Alzheimer’s. So every time I tell her, she hears it for the first time, and that’s great,” Rootes said. “She’s surprised and delighted.”
Make no mistake, he isn’t looking at the book as a cash grab. In fact, the proceeds all go to the Texans Foundation.
“I called Janice (McNair) and I said, ‘I’ve already paid for the production of this, I would like to give the proceeds to the Houston Texans Foundation,’ and they were kind of shocked.”
Rootes said he strongly believes in the Texans Foundation mission, which focuses on youth initiatives through education, character development, and fitness.
Something that, no doubt, would make a mother proud.
Rootes' book is available now on Amazon for less than a dollar.
Once the hard copy comes out, it will be $19.99.
All proceeds go to the Houston Texans Foundation.