The Houston Texans 2012 All Character(s) Team
Connor Barwin and JJ Watt at a Rockets game last year right before Barwin pile drove the Grizzlies mascot.
Photo by Jeff Balke
Having a good team requires a mix of straight arrows -- guys like Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, who appear nearly asleep when they aren't slicing and dicing opponents like cold cuts -- and goofballs who keep things light in what can often be a very intense work environment. Throughout the years, Houston has seen its fair share of characters from politics to community leaders to sports. Hell, the Luv Ya Blue Oilers teams had a head coach named Bum who wore a ten-gallon hat, but not in the Astrodome because his mama told him it was impolite to wear a hat indoors.
The 10-1 Houston Texans are the kind of team that kills with a thousand cuts. They do a lot of things well and play probably the most balanced game of any team in the NFL. They lack the flamboyance of a team like the Patriots, with its GQ cover model quarterback and grumpy, hoodie-wearing mad genius of a coach. They don't exude the toughness of San Francisco and its my-way-or-the-highway head coach, Jim Harbaugh.
But that doesn't mean they don't have some interesting fellas on the team. In fact, if they were to make it to the Super Bowl, the pregame show would be replete with the big personalities of Texans players like these.
Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns
TicketsSun., Oct. 15, 12:00pm
TicketsSat., Oct. 21, 7:00pm
Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
TicketsSun., Nov. 5, 12:00pm
Houston Texans vs. Arizona Cardinals
TicketsSun., Nov. 19, 12:00pm
Houston Texans vs. San Francisco 49ers
TicketsSun., Dec. 10, 12:00pm
It's hard to imagine a guy like Watt who is redefining his position with his insane play on the field also happens to be an enormously likable and engaging personality, but he is. He is larger than life, literally and metaphorically, with a motor that just doesn't stop and, quite clearly, a love for life that extends well beyond the hash marks.
This guy once got his helmet knocked off while racing down the field during a kickoff. That happens. But what doesn't happen is the guy missing a helmet flying at the ball character and hitting him with a crushing tackle headfirst. Braman is an animal on the field...a little crazy, but an animal.
The vegan (mostly), poetry-writing, sly-witted, namaste-bowing pro bowl running back is as interesting off the field as he is to watch on it. He's got the moves of Gale Sayers and the Twitter wisdom of the Dalai Lama. He even posed on the cover of a magazine with a unicorn owing to his general dislike of fantasy sports, of which he is one of the unquestioned leaders.
For years now, Walter has played second fiddle to Andre Johnson and has been an unfair victim of the fact that he isn't Lynn Swan to Johnson's John Stallworth. But he is a solid receiver and a fan favorite in the stadium if not on sports talk radio. Off the field, he is one of the team's best interviews and funniest guys.
Buzzfeed calls him the biggest hipster in the NFL. He led the team in sacks last year, but probably also in hair gel for his faux hawk. He rides his bike and the light rail when not driving an electric car. He advocates for same-sex marriage and goes to see bands at local venues. At this point, I'm shocked American Apparel hasn't tried to get him as a spokesmodel.
When you want a character in the very traditional sense of the NFL, look no further than Smith. The D-lineman is a steady veteran voice, but he's also one of the funniest interviews you will ever hear. He has a weekly show on 1560 that is a must-listen, particularly the regular Shaolin Temple segment, and fancies himself to be a ninja assassin, pulling an imaginary sword after sacks. You can't miss him in his cowboy hat in the locker room either.