Over the last decade or so, the soap opera format on television has been dying a slow death. While there used to be about a dozen or so in circulation, now we are down to Days of our Lives on NBC, and maybe two others. I bring this up because, if you're a starving soap opera enthusiast, the best solution to fill that void might be to become a Houston Texans fan.
On Wednesday, it was another day, and thus another crisis to contain, as one of the worst kept secrets became official on Wednesday morning — longtime team president Jamey Rootes is stepping away from the Texans (possibly for fear of getting third degree burns from getting dumpster-fire scorched). In a press release, the Texans couched Rootes' departure as follows:
The Houston Texans announced today that long-time president Jamey Rootes is leaving the organization to pursue his interests as a writer, public speaker, consultant and professor at the University of Houston.
Ok, that's one way to position, I suppose. Here is what CEO Cal McNair and co-founder (and wife of the late Bob McNair) Janice McNair had to say about Rootes' tenure with the team:
“We sincerely appreciate Jamey’s multiple contributions to the Texans franchise over his tenure and look forward to seeing him succeed in his new ventures,” said Texans Chair and CEO Cal McNair. “We will now build upon this foundation and move forward with a bold and unwavering commitment to winning championships, creating memorable experiences for our fans, and doing great things for Houston.”
“Jamey has been and always will be a member of our Texans family,” said Texans Co-Founder and Senior Chair Janice S. McNair. “When Bob first met Jamey, he knew immediately Jamey would be the one to help us build this franchise from the ground up. I am so thankful for Jamey, Melissa and the entire Rootes family for their constant dedication to the team since its inception. He’s had a great influence on this organization and we wish him continued success in the future. We respect Jamey’s decision to pursue other opportunities.”
And finally, here was Rootes himself on his time overseeing business operations for Houston's NFL franchise:
“The past two decades have been an amazing blessing for me and my family and I have the McNairs to thank for that,” Rootes said. “It has been an honor to serve them in this capacity for as long as I have. I want to thank my teammates as we could not have had so many successes without their hard work and dedication to the team. I also want to thank the best fans in the National Football League, whom I call ‘Texans Nation.’ Your passionate support created a tremendous homefield advantage, established the best tailgating experience in the NFL and sold out every home game. I will always be a proud Texan and I look forward to continuing to support our team.”
Ok, this is major news, and would be THE most major thing going on with the Texans if they hadn't alienated their quarterback, alienated their star defensive end, and chosen a head coach who most fans didn't know existed until his press conference two weeks ago. Oh, yeah, and that Easterby guy. He's big news, too.
Let's dig into a few quick hit thoughts on this news:
This is Cal McNair's team
Some would say, "You mean this is Easterby's team," and that may very well be true, but it is Cal McNair who has enabled and entitled the chaplain-turned-executive to spread his brand of fear-disguised-as-faith throughout the organization. So Rootes was clearly a "Bob McNair guy," having been hired by the late owner from practically Day One of the franchise's inception. It's Cal's show now, for better or worse, and I'll let you decide what there's been more of in the three years Cal's been in charge. Clearly, he is running things MUCH differently than his father ever did, and thus far, very little has worked. We will see how well things work on the business side now without Rootes in charge. There will be dozens of corporate leaders around town wondering exactly how their relationship with the Texans will be handled moving forward.
The Texans' collective soul continues to wither away
If you were putting together a "faces of the Texans" collage to symbolize the franchise's first two decades in existence, Rootes would be one of the biggest faces on the page. Now he is gone. Andre Johnson would be on that page. He tweeted less than a month ago about how the team squanders players' careers. J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, two other big faces on there, and both are on the cusp of being traded. Somebody PLEASE watch Marc Vandermeer for me, because if the voice of the Texans is all of a sudden no longer here, then this franchise has essentially had its soul removed, and may as well be a steel blue zombie.
Jamey Rootes' legacy
I'll let the press release outline Jamey Rootes' accomplishments and accolades:
Throughout Rootes’ tenure (2000-2021), he was responsible for all of the Texans’ business functions. He oversaw the team's efforts to secure stadium-naming rights and sponsorship, coordinated radio and TV broadcasting relationships, engineered the club's successful ticket and suite sales campaigns, led the creation and launch of the team’s identity and developed the team's highly-acclaimed customer service strategy. Under his leadership, the Texans have consistently been recognized as one of the most valuable professional sports franchises both in the NFL and globally.
In 2003, Rootes created Lone Star Sports and Entertainment (LSSE) and since that time has served as president. LSSE has been the catalyst for some of Houston’s most significant sporting events, including collegiate events like the Texas Bowl and the Texas Kickoff annual college football games, as well as marquee soccer events like Copa América Centenario, Gold Cup, the Manchester Derby and the International Champions Cup match featuring Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Most recently, Rootes and LSSE launched “Texans Fit,” which now has six fitness facility locations in the Houston area.
Rootes was selected twice by the Sports Business Journal as a member of its distinguished “Forty Under 40” list of leading sports executives, and in 2014 he was named a finalist for the Global Sports Executive of the Year by the Stadium Business Awards. Rootes was recognized in 2017 as the first-ever Houston Business Journal’s Business Person of the Year after serving as chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership and deputy chairman of the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee. In 2019, he was selected as one of Houston Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs. Rootes was also recognized as the 2020 Steinberg/DeNicola NFL Humanitarian of the Year. In Rootes’ recently released book, “The Winning Game Plan”, he outlines a world-class approach to leading a business to exceptional and sustained success. The book became a best-seller on Amazon, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
And I'll let my Twitter timeline lay out his legacy, in my opinion:
For Rootes, in the short term, it will likely be pursuing the exact vocations outlined in the beginning of the Texans' press release. However, I have to imagine, long term, Rootes has something to offer another sports franchise, whether it's in the NFL or some other league. He is still a very young man, in his early 50's. We will see if and when that comes about. As for the Texans, Senior VP of Corporate Development Greg Grissom will take over the reins on an interim basis, and will be considered for the permanent role during what will be a nationwide search. Grissom has been Rootes' right hand man for nearly two decades, and is a very logical and capable liaison to the corporate leaders mentioned earlier. He's been deeply involved in many fo those relationships, and should be steady hand during a time where the Texans are in the midst of the most tumultuous maelstrom in franchise history.
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