The NFL Super Bowl week highlights the performances leading up to the big game, some of the league’s best talent, and of course the final matchup of the season to crown an NFL champion. Taking a step back in time for a moment the NFL Luminaries of the Game Gala took place on February 1, honoring the past greats of the game including players and those off the field that molded the league to what it is today. The event included 51 members of the NFL Hall of Fame, potential future hall of Famers, the commissioner Rodger Goodell, Robert and Janice McNair, as well as numerous other accredited and well-known personalities.
An audience including 51 Hall of Famers did not lack any firepower as the NFL’s best of the best all gathered together for one event made this a truly special and powerful night. The former players, dressed in their eye-popping Canton, Ohio yellow jackets were announced one by one by sports personality and Hall of Famer in his own right Chris Berman. Some of those in attendance included Joe Delamielleure, Steve Largent, Andre Reed, Bill Polian, John Randle, Jim Taylor, Mike Singletary, among so many other deserving participants. This list of players included some of the NFL’s all-time record holders, players that revolutionized the way the game is played and created the mold of what it meant to be a football player. Their wives, families, and friends in a full house joined the former players, embracing each and every player for their contributions the game. Before the gala even begin these greats joined by one another gathered and reminisced, sharing stories from their playing days, cracking jokes, and not missing a beat from where they left off in their playing days as the personalities that made so many of them well known continued to reveal itself.
Speakers for the gala varied greatly, from members of the government to TV personalities, and of course the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell. The mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner spoke to the crowd about how proud he was of his city and to simply be able to call himself a Houstonian. “As a native Houstonian, I could not be more proud of this city. This is a city with dreams and hopes and inspiration, being the most diverse city in the country, speaking 142 different languages. We are a little bit country, and we are a little bit urban sheik all at the same time,” said Turner. “In this city, we recognize our diversity and we strive to be our very best.”
These speakers including Mayor Turner, Chris Berman, and Rodger Goodell all came together to honor Robert and his wife Janice McNair, the owners of the Houston Texans as well as loyal Houstonians. “I want to thank them for their generosity, I want to thank them for the Texans, I want to thank them for their generous spirits on so many different fronts. The reality is, this Super Bowl would not be taking place in Houston without their presence and kind contributions,” Sylvester Turner, explained to the crowd of onlookers. Bob and his wife Janice who met during their days at the University of South Carolina Columbia have been residents of Houston since 1960.
The owners of the Texans since their incorporation into the league since 1999, the McNair’s have done so much for the community. Whether it was donating 100 million dollars to Baylor College of Medicine, a million dollars to McNair field, the creation of the Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation, among so many other incredible things they have done for the community. A specific story shared at the gala about their spirit to give to others is that regarding former first lady Barbra Bush. Donating to their former school, Robert and Janice decided instead of naming a building after themselves but to rather put it in the honor of their former first lady, Barbra Bush. The truly amazing event honoring the two ended with the reveal of a replica statue of Robert McNair that will be built in his honor.
The proceeds from the gala will go to benefit the Host Committee’s Touchdown Houston campaign, which will distribute $4 million of grant funding to Houston-area nonprofits. A one million dollar donation has been made to the host committee from the NFL foundation in hopes for them to reach their goal.
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