For Houston Texans fans, the long months between April and August are hellish. There's nary a word about pro football mentioned in the local media. It's Astros this, Rockets that. Hell, even the Comets get more love. Until the NFL's August preseason games, that is, where veterans dial it in and rookies viciously battle for a roster spot and an NFL minimum salary (a paltry $250,000 per year). This week, the Texans open their preseason schedule against the visiting Denver Broncos. Our boys have bid adieu to some fan favorites in the off-season, most notably All-Pro defensive players Aaron Glenn and Jamie Sharper. But the team has added the speedy Phillip Buchanon and a host of new draft picks, featuring defensive stud Travis Johnson, and it has pumped up the offensive line to protect beefcake QB David Carr.
For fans, the home game means a chance to see hot new talent and, duh, a chance to tailgate. (For tailgating rules and guidelines, visit www.houstontexans.com.) As for the Broncos, their most exciting element may be head coach Mike Shanahan, who has earned the nickname "The Rat," thanks to his beady eyes and pointy nose and chin. He also bears a striking resemblance to Dubya, but at the risk of alerting the Secret Service, we'll stop there. 7 p.m. Saturday, August 13. Reliant Stadium, One Reliant Park. For tickets, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.houstontexans.com. Tickets start at $35. -- Steven Devadanam
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There are few thrills like buying cheap tickets to a Rockets game and then sneaking down to the expensive seats at the end of the first quarter. But we happen to know of something even more thrilling for all you basketball bargain hunters: the Nike Pro City Houston Summer Basketball League. For the past month, hoopsters such as Mike James, Cuttino Mobley and Rashard Lewis, along with other pros, college players and local legends, have battled on the courts of the Fonde Community Center. Wednesday's championship game marks the culmination of the five-week season. In addition to the fast-paced, high-scoring game, fans can look forward to a DJ, some down-home cookin' from the Breakfast Klub and a chance to shoot a half-court shot for 10,000 bones. That's way better than any seat upgrade. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 17. 110 Sabine. For information, visit www.procityhouston.com. Free. -- Mosi Secret