Sean Pendergast

Benched Last Week, Justin Reid Named Texans Man of the Year Award Nominee

Justin Reid was benched for discipline a week ago, and now he is named the Texans' Man of the Year nominee.
Justin Reid was benched for discipline a week ago, and now he is named the Texans' Man of the Year nominee. Photo by Eric Sauseda
If you're looking for a microcosm of one of the most bizarre, most disturbing, most depressing seasons to be a Houston Texans fan, look no further than the saga of fourth year safety Justin Reid over the last two weeks. In Week 12, Reid was benched for the home game against the New York Jets. Reportedly, there was a dustup in a team meeting between Reid and head coach David Culley, and that dustup escalated into an argument between Reid and wide receiver Chris Conley.

Furthermore, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, this was not the first time Reid and Culley had butted heads this season, which was incredibly surprising, because Reid has always been one of the most upbeat, high character Houston Texans since he arrived from Stanford as a third round pick in 2018. In short, the Reid we heard about in that team meeting was not the Reid we'd been accustomed to.

Well, Reid was back in the lineup against the Colts (not that it mattered, the Texans got blown out, 31-0), so all was back to normal ON the field, at least. Off the field, Reid, the same player who was benched for alleged repeated issues with the head coach, was named the Texans' nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, the league's gold standard for combined on field excellence and off field service and philanthropy.

If you're looking for a barometer of the prestige of the Payton award, know that J.J. Watt won the award in 2017, on the heels of raising over $41 million for Hurricane Harvey relief. Here is the Texans' synopsis of Reid's credentials for this prestigious honor:

Today, the Houston Texans announced Justin Reid as the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Considered the league's most prestigious honor, the award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.

Reid has been a defensive force since he joined the NFL in 2018. Off the field, Reid is a source of strength and inspiration for the city of Houston and beyond. When Hurricane Ida hit his home state of Louisiana earlier this year, Reid didn't hesitate to lead the charge in giving back to the community that shaped him into the person he is today. He quickly organized a drive-through relief event at NRG Stadium. Houstonians and Reid's teammates helped him raise more than $10,000 and fill two 18-wheelers with donated items such as non-perishable food, bottled water, toiletries and dog food for the devastated community. Reid's efforts earned him the NFLPA's Week 1 Community MVP award.

Reid has impacted the lives of countless children who need him most across Houston. Three local organizations are the biggest beneficiaries of Reid's generosity: Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston and Kids' Meals.

First and foremost, congratulations to Reid, one of the true nice guys on the Texans (unless you're David Culley or Chris Conley, I suppose). Secondly, and disturbingly, it would appear that this is yet another high character, quality player that the Texans and their new "culture" (founded by Jack Easterby in 2019) are about to run off after the season.

Reid is a free agent, and it was already doubtful that he would return to the Houston Texans in 2022, but the benching along with the losing will likely steer him to greener pastures. This has to matter to the Texans, though, right? I mean, it's an organization that prides itself on its collective high character. Hell, when the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson, the team touted Johnson's Payton Award nomination in 2019 as a driving reason why they made the deal:

David Johnson will be our starting running back and a key part of the offense. He is a tough, smart, dependable player and we needed a RB after letting Carlos Hyde leave … Arizona’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee in 2019 while not playing the role he desired — very high character and good teammate
Hell, Cal McNair's son wears a Justin Reid jersey out at practice at training camp, and now Reid is likely entering his final month as a Texan. Once Reid leaves after the season, the exiled Jordan Akins leaves, and Zach Cunningham and Deshaun Watson are both shipped out, the Texans will be without a single player that they drafted before 2019. That is both telling and astounding.

Here are all 32 Walter Payton Award nominees. There will be three finalists named from this list, with the winner announced during Super Bowl weekend:

Arizona Cardinals
Kelvin Beachum, OT

Atlanta Falcons
Mike Davis, RB

Baltimore Ravens
Bradley Bozeman, C

Buffalo Bills
Harrison Phillips, DL

Carolina Panthers
D.J. Moore, WR

Chicago Bears
Jimmy Graham, TE

Cincinnati Bengals
Sam Hubbard, DE

Cleveland Browns
Denzel Ward, S

Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott, QB

Denver Broncos
Justin Simmons, S

Detroit Lions
Jason Cabinda, FB

Green Bay Packers
Aaron Jones, RB

Houston Texans
Justin Reid, S

Indianapolis Colts
Kenny Moore II, CB

Jacksonville Jaguars
Myles Jack, LB

Kansas City Chiefs
Tyrann Mathieu, S

Las Vegas Raiders
Darren Waller, TE

Los Angeles Chargers
Corey Linsley, C

Los Angeles Rams
Andrew Whitworth, OT

Miami Dolphins
Jerome Baker, LB

Minnesota Vikings
Anthony Barr, LB

New England Patriots
Lawrence Guy, DL

New Orleans Saints
Cameron Jordan, DE

New York Giants
Logan Ryan, S

New York Jets
Quinnen Williams, DL

Philadelphia Eagles
Jason Kelce, OL

Pittsburgh Steelers
Cameron Heyward, DL

San Francisco 49ers
Arik Armstead, DL

Seattle Seahawks
Tyler Lockett, WR

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans, WR

Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry, RB

Washington Football Team
Jonathan Allen, DL
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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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