Don't miss Earl Mitchell's story

Expansive pieces where we get to know someone from the NFL seem more and more rare.

But we have one to enjoy today, and you’ll probably wind up rooting for Texans defensive tackle Earl Mitchell once you read this one.

Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle spent time with Mitchell and walks us through his upbringing in a much tougher part of Houston than Reliant Stadium and his unconventional, challenging path to a job as a professional football player.

We get a lot of detail.

Mitchell tried to dig to China like he saw Bugs Bunny do. He saw his father just twice, the second time at his funeral. He rode his bike to practice in the middle of a hurricane. He recently drove past Graffiti that talks to him.

Earl always had trouble sleeping when he, his mother and his sister lived at the Salvation Army.

He was five years old.

At night he would look out the window and see the old Continental Airlines headquarters in downtown Houston, a white skyscraper with a triangular top that had lights shining upward so they created a conical shape. The lights looked like the hair atop troll dolls. Troll dolls freaked him out. Earl thought that building must have been troll headquarters so he stayed awake staring at it.

Other than that: “It was fun for me,” Earl said. “I loved it.”

A worthwhile read for sure.