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The Origin of Liberty White

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I was reading John McClain’s latest ode to the greatness of Bob McNair the other day, and it reminded me of a story about McNair and the Texans that I’m sure most of you have never heard. So I thought I would share.

I’m not sure how many of you remember the Texans season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 10, 2006. But that was Liberty White Day. The day the team wore white pants and white jerseys and all of the fans were encouraged to wear white. Now being as this was five years after 9/11 in New York, I’m sure most of you who remember probably thought the Liberty had something to do with that.

You would be wrong.

For some reason, Bob McNair decided to make a little speech before the game explaining the significance of Liberty White Day to him. And he decided to tape his comments a couple of hours before the game, so that there would be nothing to disturb him. I was working with the Texans video crew at the time, so I was in the control room as the speech was being taped.

The speech mainly dealt with how he named the color after his dog Liberty, who was actually brown-colored. And then McNair went on to talk about how his dog had died, and how he had decided to have the team wear the all-white colors to honor the dog. Then there was a short pause, when suddenly, as if he was poked in the ribs, McNair looked back up and said, Oh yeah, this is also to honor the victims of 9/11.

I remember a whole bunch of heads in the control popping up from our various duties and looking at each other, and somebody going, Did he just compare the death of his dog to 9/11? Surely, we thought, we all just heard something, but then it was replayed, and we knew for sure what we had heard. Then surely, we thought, they would do some editing and take that comparison out before the clip aired in the stadium before the game.

But they didn’t. And if you weren’t at the game, you never heard about that. Until now.

And that’s the story of how the Texans came to wear a color called Liberty White, and about how the death of a dog named Liberty was equated to 9/11. Just one of those things you’ll never hear from John McClain when he’s writing his odes to the greatness of Bob McNair. – John Royal

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