Sean Pendergast

Texan Players React To Passing of Owner Bob McNair (1937-2018)

Bob McNair, founder of the Houston Texans, passed away at age 81 on Friday.
Bob McNair, founder of the Houston Texans, passed away at age 81 on Friday. Photo by Eric Sauseda
If you were putting together a list of the most important sports figures in the history of the city of Houston, if Bob McNair's name isn't at the top of that list, you certainly don't go more than a couple of names before you get to him. When you consider the ripple effect of NFL football on both the economy and the psyche of a city, there's certainly been no more impactful Houstonian in sports than McNair, who brought NFL football back to this city in 2002 after winning the rights to an NFL expansion franchise in late 1999.

On Friday afternoon, McNair passed away at the age of 81 after multiple bouts with cancer. To the average Houstonian, he was known as the owner of the Houston Texans, and the man who returned NFL football to this city after Bud Adams moved the Oilers to Nashville. However, McNair was so much more to so many more people, having donated a reported $500 million to various charitable causes.

For more than 25 years, McNair chaired The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, the Houston Texans Foundation and The Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation. He founded the AdvoCare Texas Bowl, which has showcased Houston to the college football world, and more importantly, provided more than $700,000 in charitable funds to the DePelchin Children's Center. McNair was also the key figure in bringing two Super Bowls to Houston, the first in 2004, and then, against great odds, in 2017. The economic impact to this city of those two Super Bowls is measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

When you consider the money-generating power of the NFL platform, whether it's a Super Bowl in this city, every Sunday during the NFL season, or the various charities that are in some way affiliated with the Texans, McNair's vision and eternal optimism is at the root of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Personally, I know that without NFL football, there is no way that this is more than a one sports radio station town. (NOTE: Here in Houston, we have five.) Many of us in my line of work owe our careers to McNair's dogged relentlessness in bringing the NFL back to Houston.

Before football, McNair made the fortune that enabled him to pay the NFL's $700 million expansion fee by founding Cogen Technologies, a company that became the world's largest independent cogeneration company. McNair sold the company to Enron for $1.5 billion in 1999. Within football, McNair was very active in advancing the game, most notably as the chairman of the NFL's finance committee. In recent years, McNair had been handing over more Texans responsibility to his son, Cal, who is the team's chief operating officer.

McNair's players and coaches reacted, both in practice and on social media, to the passing of the team's owner:

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast