Texans receive Crystal Award from AMA Houston

HOUSTON – The Houston Texans received a Crystal Award from the Houston chapter of the American Marketing Association at the 26th Annual Crystal Awards dinner Thursday evening. The Texans were honored in the category of best Advertising – TV Campaign, Two or More.

The Texans’ winning entry was for the commercial spots that the team produced in 2011. The commercials were a part of the Texans’ “Unleash The Spirit” campaign in which fans told their own stories about what made gameday special to them (). The team selected 10 fans and invited them to Reliant Stadium for a photo and commercial shoot, turning those stories into ads highlighting the emotional and personal benefits of attending Texans games.

The Crystal Awards celebrate the best marketing and public relations efforts in Houston each year. Each entry is judged on five criteria: the situation or challenge presented; the objective(s) of the campaign; its strategy and tactics; its message alignment to the target audience; and its results.

Houston Texans

In 2002, the Houston Texans joined the National Football League as an expansion team. They were only the second team in the league to win their first game, shocking and amazing fans when they beat the Dallas Cowboys.

The city of Houston was granted an expansion team only a couple of years after their previous team left the state to become the Tennessee Titans, although the new team did not begin play until 2002 as a stadium had to be built, legal matters taken care of, and a team put together. Originally, the league was looking toward Los Angeles to host the 32nd team in the NFL, but slow progress and a standoff between several groups for ownership of the team left the league disenchanted enough to turn to Houston, which had a higher offer placed.

The home of the Houston Texans is the state of the art Reliant Stadium, which also serves as the team’s headquarters. The venue cost a total of 352 million dollars to build and is owned by Harris County. With seating for 71,500 fans, it was the first stadium in the league to feature a retractable roof. In September of 2008, the stadium was damaged in Hurricane Ike, causing the team to be unable to play games there until it was reopened in October.

Cheering on the newest team in the league are the Houston Texans Cheerleaders. This team has fast risen to become a favorite among football fans, performing at home games, occasionally on the road, and throughout the community. They can also be found performing before games, in order to ramp up the crowd and get them excited to root on their favorite team.

Off the field, the Texans are active in helping those less fortunate. They promote active lifestyles for children through the Play 60 program promoted by the NFL, which encourages children to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. They have also formed a partnership with the local YMCA, to facilitate the opening of a new YMCA facility. Aside from their work with children and their families, the Houston Texans are also very concerned about the environment, hosting and promoting green initiatives and education.

Few teams with such a short history can boast of the success that the Houston Texans have. Area residents are grateful to have a team again, supporting and encouraging the team that was so hard to win. The newest team in the NFL is definitely showing promise of great things to come.

Texans training staff staying busy during offseason

For most Texans players, the offseason started in mid-January. You wouldn’t know it if you walked through the training room at Reliant Stadium on any given morning.

The Texans finished the 2011 season with 12 players on injured reserve. Many of those players are still on the mend from their season-ending injuries, while several others had surgery after the season ended. Quarterback , linebackers and and punter are among those at Reliant just about every day for rehabilitation.

“We’re really busy in here,” Texans director of sports medicine/head athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan said in his office, glancing through a large window into a crowded training room. “We have about 15 guys or so coming in every morning. Guys are very focused. Guys are very committed to getting well and to making next year even more successful than 2011 was, and everybody is just working hard towards that goal.”

Players start coming in for rehab every day around 7:30 a.m. Kaplan and his staff – which consists of five athletic trainers, two of whom are physical therapists – arrive an hour earlier, between 6 and 6:30 a.m. The last players typically leave around 1 p.m.

During rehab, players do exercises designed to help them regain their function, with an emphasis on flexibility, strength, coordination, balance and endurance. Every player does a core or trunk stabilization program.

Kaplan likes to say that “the training room never closes.” He and his staff have not had a vacation day since the lockout ended in late July.

“Those guys all do a phenomenal job,” Schaub said. “All the things they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis in the season and now in the offseason, having to deal with all the guys that are rehabbing little nicks and bruises or surgeries and whatnot, just to get us ready for OTAs and training camp, it’s a year-round thing for them. They do a great job of putting together our rehab plans and getting us back healthy.”

For Schaub, 14 weeks have passed since he had surgery for a Lisfranc injury in his right foot. He arrives at Reliant Stadium between 7 and 8 a.m. every day, or 9 a.m. if he’s taking his oldest daughter to school that day.

Some offseason, huh?

“I’m here every day, working out, working on my foot and just rehabbing everything,” Schaub said, laughing at the question. “Everything’s going real well. I’m here each day ‘til about noon, and then my offseason consists of taking care of my kids and being over there with the family. So that’s the fun part.”

Players lean on each other throughout the rehab process, often telling stories and cracking jokes with their teammates, the trainers and other team personnel who pass through the training room.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Kaplan said. “Guys use each other for support. It’s a long grind a lot of times when you have a season-ending surgery or an offseason surgery. Rehab can be anywhere from a few weeks to 6-9 months, and it takes a lot of support from your teammates.”

That friendly banter is an essential part of the rehab process.

“You got to (do it),” said offensive tackle , who has been rehabbing from a ruptured triceps since September. “The hard part is just being in here and knowing that you have a good 45-50 guys that are vacationing right now and you’re in here working. It’s good to joke around, kind of keep your spirits loosened up so we can pretty much not really think about what the other guys are doing.”

Right guard is one of several Texans who had offseason surgery. After playing through a broken leg in Week 14 at Cincinnati, having surgery the next day and then coming back to play in the Texans’ two playoff games, Brisiel had arthroscopic ankle surgery to repair a minor, pre-existing injury.

Instances like that are common every offseason. Players routinely get elbows and knees scoped to clean out loose cartilage or other issues that accumulated over the course of one season or several.

“I think that’s part of being a successful NFL player,” Kaplan said. “You have to be able to play with stuff. For lack of a better analogy, it’s very similar to your car. Your car takes a lot of wear and tear. You have to take it into the shop periodically for tune-ups or oil changes for tire rotations. Every once in a while, you’ve got to get new tires and get work on your engine.

“These guys are high-performance athletes. There is an extreme amount of wear and tear on their bodies, and the offseasons are a very important part of keeping their career and their longevity going. It’s important that these guys get well so that they can be the best football players they can be in the fall.”