They can no longer be called the Houston Whatchamacallits, Whozits or the Whatevers.
Owner Bob McNair revealed a not-too-well-kept secret Wednesday in announcing the nickname of the NFL’s 32nd franchise will be the Texans, winning out over the Stallions and Apollos.
“Are you ready for some football?” McNair shouted to a downtown crowd estimated at 16,000 who turned out to learn the team’s name, logo and colors.
The colors will be battle red, steel blue and liberty white with the bull head shaped logo that included a Texas lone star for the team that will begin play in 2002.
“We’re so excited about the return of the NFL to Houston,” McNair said. “We don’t want to be stereotyped as cowboys. We are proud of our past but we don’t want to be bound by it.”
Looking out over a stretch of downtown Texas Avenue that was turned into a football field, complete with goalposts, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue revealed the team name and logo on a large screen.
“With teamwork you can achieve the impossible,” Tagliabue said. “Not many years ago, you thought ‘it’s not going to happen,’ but it did happen and you can be proud of yourselves. You made it happen.”
McNair paid $700 million for the franchise in a lengthy battle with Los Angeles, a favored place for the NFL because of the size of its media market. But Los Angeles never presented a unified plan and McNair won the team.
The crowd that showed up on a steamy afternoon reacted positively to the new name. Several spectators grabbed their cells phones to spread the word. “Yeah, it’s the Texans,” one man shouted into his phone.
Another fan, Chris Lockeridge, beamed beneath his hard-hat which bore a sign with the year 2002 and a question-mark attached.
“I rooted for the Oilers and now I’ll be rooting for the Texans,” Lockeridge said. “It doesn’t matter what they’re called. I’ll root for them.”
The team labeled the day “The Big Return,” with the Texans replacing the Houston Oilers, who left for Tennessee after the 1996 season.
“We’ve developed a name and logo that fans throughout the area and around the country and world will embrace for years to come,” McNair said. “It is a logo worthy of the name and the brand of football I expect our team to play.
“The name and logo embody the pride, strength, independence, courage and achievement that make the people of Houston and our area special.”
Earlier, former NFL kicker Raul Allegre staged a kickoff in the Astrodome to former players from Texas Southern, University of Houston and Rice University to symbolically get the day of celebration started.
Retractable Roof Stadium
McNair said the footballs would be delivered to the mayors in Austin, San Antonio and Beaumont as part of the nickname announcement in those cities. Presentations to other cities were planned for Thursday.
A 69,500-seat retractable roof stadium is under construction adjacent to the Astrodome that will house the new NFL team and the Houston Livestock Show and Redeo beginning in 2002.
McNair has even bigger plans for his new playpen. He is preparing a presentation to the NFL and expects not only to get the 2004 Super Bowl in Houston, but to become a part of the Super Bowl rotation.
Several former Oilers players and former coach Bum Phillips were present at the ceremony.
University of Texas fans, noting the similarity of the Texans’ bull logo and their on Longhorn mascot, immediately started waving their “Hook ‘em horns” hand signal, including Lockeridge.
“We’ll just have to shorten it a bit for the Texans, “ he said.