Seth Payne You gotta love a defensive lineman with a name like Payne, and the Texans' Seth Payne lives up to the moniker. At least when he's on the field. Unfortunately for Houston fans, the defensive tackle has suffered as much pain as he's inflicted, spending most of the 2003 season sidelined by a torn ACL. When he's able to play, however, Payne is an unsung anchor for the team's unusual defensive scheme -- it's his job to tie up two opposing blockers in order to let the linebackers roam free and get the glory of high-profile tackles. Payne's no slouch at racking up his own tackling stats, too, powering his six-foot-four, 300-pound frame over the top of terrified running backs. Which isn't what you'd expect from a graduate of the Ivy League's Cornell University -- not exactly a football factory. The fancy education helps Payne call the Texans' defensive plays at the line of scrimmage, and it has also led him to be active in the community. He's a frequent volunteer for reading and teaching programs and has done yeoman work for the March of Dimes and the Houston Food Bank. Recovering from a torn ACL isn't easy, but Texans fans are fervently hoping for a Payne comeback.

Seth Payne You gotta love a defensive lineman with a name like Payne, and the Texans' Seth Payne lives up to the moniker. At least when he's on the field. Unfortunately for Houston fans, the defensive tackle has suffered as much pain as he's inflicted, spending most of the 2003 season sidelined by a torn ACL. When he's able to play, however, Payne is an unsung anchor for the team's unusual defensive scheme -- it's his job to tie up two opposing blockers in order to let the linebackers roam free and get the glory of high-profile tackles. Payne's no slouch at racking up his own tackling stats, too, powering his six-foot-four, 300-pound frame over the top of terrified running backs. Which isn't what you'd expect from a graduate of the Ivy League's Cornell University -- not exactly a football factory. The fancy education helps Payne call the Texans' defensive plays at the line of scrimmage, and it has also led him to be active in the community. He's a frequent volunteer for reading and teaching programs and has done yeoman work for the March of Dimes and the Houston Food Bank. Recovering from a torn ACL isn't easy, but Texans fans are fervently hoping for a Payne comeback.

Corner of Montrose and Allen Parkway Is your dog tired of walking around the same old block? Peeing on the same phone pole might be cool during the week, but when Saturday rolls around, your pooch wants some excitement. The park off the Eleanor Tinsley trail at the corner of Montrose and Allen Parkway is just the place. Great Danes mingle with cocker spaniels, shih tzus cuddle with yorkie-poos -- and Chihuahuas look on nervously. If you're worried about someone's rabid pit bull giving your furry friend a thrashing, don't be. People with dogs named Killer obey park etiquette and keep him on a leash. Kinder canines run free along a block of grass and trees, which is enclosed by steep hills to keep the poochies away from traffic.

Corner of Montrose and Allen Parkway Is your dog tired of walking around the same old block? Peeing on the same phone pole might be cool during the week, but when Saturday rolls around, your pooch wants some excitement. The park off the Eleanor Tinsley trail at the corner of Montrose and Allen Parkway is just the place. Great Danes mingle with cocker spaniels, shih tzus cuddle with yorkie-poos -- and Chihuahuas look on nervously. If you're worried about someone's rabid pit bull giving your furry friend a thrashing, don't be. People with dogs named Killer obey park etiquette and keep him on a leash. Kinder canines run free along a block of grass and trees, which is enclosed by steep hills to keep the poochies away from traffic.

Fonde Community Center We give this place props for being a decent recreation center and an amazingly good spot to watch or play a little afternoon ball. Here's the draw: With the cost of NBA tickets going from obscene to laughable, there may be no better spot in the state to watch NBA ballers converge than at Fonde Recreation Center. Former Rocket (and current Orlando Magic) guard Steve "Franchise" Francis hoops it up here with friend and fellow guard Cuttino Mobley. Hall of Famer and Rocket big man Moses Malone also plays here, and there have been sightings of Nick Van Exel, Sam Cassell and Damon Stoudamire. You can get your B-ball fix anywhere, but this is one of the few spots where you can actually tell your friends, "Dude, (insert NBA star here) just dunked on me!"

Fonde Community Center We give this place props for being a decent recreation center and an amazingly good spot to watch or play a little afternoon ball. Here's the draw: With the cost of NBA tickets going from obscene to laughable, there may be no better spot in the state to watch NBA ballers converge than at Fonde Recreation Center. Former Rocket (and current Orlando Magic) guard Steve "Franchise" Francis hoops it up here with friend and fellow guard Cuttino Mobley. Hall of Famer and Rocket big man Moses Malone also plays here, and there have been sightings of Nick Van Exel, Sam Cassell and Damon Stoudamire. You can get your B-ball fix anywhere, but this is one of the few spots where you can actually tell your friends, "Dude, (insert NBA star here) just dunked on me!"

PJ's Too many sports bars make us feel like we're in some kind of sports kaleidoscope. You can't look to either side of the screen immediately in front of you, because there's yet another TV with yet another distracting game. It's almost enough to make you puke. Not so at cozy PJ's, which has only a handful of TVs but a whole lot of soul. Tucked in a converted old two-story house in Montrose, PJ's intimate atmosphere affords great conversational opportunities, and whether your team wins or loses, it's a great place to kick back and celebrate -- or drown your sorrows -- after the game.

PJ's Too many sports bars make us feel like we're in some kind of sports kaleidoscope. You can't look to either side of the screen immediately in front of you, because there's yet another TV with yet another distracting game. It's almost enough to make you puke. Not so at cozy PJ's, which has only a handful of TVs but a whole lot of soul. Tucked in a converted old two-story house in Montrose, PJ's intimate atmosphere affords great conversational opportunities, and whether your team wins or loses, it's a great place to kick back and celebrate -- or drown your sorrows -- after the game.

Adam Everett Back in the days before A-Rod and Carlos Guillen, shortstops were scrawny whippets who vacuumed up grounders but couldn't break a lamp taking batting practice in a hotel lobby. Think Mark Belanger or Buddy Harrelson. The Astros' Adam Everett is a throwback to those classic days, from the six-foot, 170-pound physique to the bland offensive performance. He consistently makes dazzling plays in the field, but the Astros kept him in the farm system because Major League pitching simply overpowered him. The team decided 2004 was Everett's now-or-never year, and he's come through just fine. The fielding has remained as sharp as ever, and the batting is more than adequate. Things have been up and down in the Astros' expected cruise to a division title, but Everett has set himself up to anchor the team's defense for a long while to come.

Adam Everett Back in the days before A-Rod and Carlos Guillen, shortstops were scrawny whippets who vacuumed up grounders but couldn't break a lamp taking batting practice in a hotel lobby. Think Mark Belanger or Buddy Harrelson. The Astros' Adam Everett is a throwback to those classic days, from the six-foot, 170-pound physique to the bland offensive performance. He consistently makes dazzling plays in the field, but the Astros kept him in the farm system because Major League pitching simply overpowered him. The team decided 2004 was Everett's now-or-never year, and he's come through just fine. The fielding has remained as sharp as ever, and the batting is more than adequate. Things have been up and down in the Astros' expected cruise to a division title, but Everett has set himself up to anchor the team's defense for a long while to come.

Best Of Houston®

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