HOUSTON – A large contingent of Texans staff, players and personnel visited the Uvalde High School football team last week.
The Texans watched the Coyotes deliver a dramatic victory one day after the NFL team surprised the coaches and players with a team dinner.
They also surprised the team with new Nike uniforms and gear, and later informed them that they’ll host them for the season opener Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium and provide transportation and suites.
The Texans previously donated $400,000 to the Robb Elementary Memorial Fund.
For a community that’s still reeling from a devastating tragedy -- a massive school shooting that claimed 19 students and two teachers’ lives at Robb Elementary School -- being visited by Texans coach Lovie Smith, linebackers Christian Kirksey and Kamu Grugier-Hill, director of sports medicine and head athletic trainer Roland Ramirez, a Uvalde native, Texans chairman Cal McNair and foundation vice president Hannah McNair meant a lot to Uvalde residents.
The feeling was mutual.
“A lot of emotion,” Smith said. “We all know what that community has gone through. We came down here to give them a hug. Football, we understand that’s its not the real world, but sometimes for a certain group of people, when you have an attachment, we, our organization, specifically me as a head football coach, going down and getting a chance to talk to theirs.
“Our players talking to their players, to just get an outlet for a night. Football sometimes can bring a smile to people’s faces, but we know it’s a lot bigger than that. The healing process takes a while, but I know it touched us and it doesn’t hurt to win a game in that fashion, the way that they did. We’re excited about them coming up this week and any type of support our organization can give, we’ll do.”
Kirksey led the effort for players donating over $200,000, which was matched by Cal and Hannah McNair.
“I can’t imagine taking my child to school where they’re supposed to be safe - that’s the safest place they could be - and you get a phone call from a principal or police officer saying there’s a shooting at the school,” Kirksey said in the wake of the shooting. “My heart goes out to all the parents and those families. No words can help the parents.
“They don’t have their children anymore. I’m a parent myself and I can’t imagine going through that and having to live with that the rest of my life, so I was definitely hurt by hearing that, and it’s in Texas, and that’s right down the road.”
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.