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|There is little evidence the Houston Oilers were ever located here.|
HOUSTON -- Since I lived here for a calendar year -- summer of 1996 to summer of 1997 -- I've been back 12 or 15 times.
I'm ridiculously sentimental, but never really felt the pangs upon my returns. I was sort of a mercenary covering the last year of the Houston Oilers for The (Nashville) Tennessean, and knowing I was only on a short assignment, I didn't have a lot of personal investment.
It wasn't until Wednesday, with some time between the conclusion of Houston Texans minicamp and my flight home to Nashville, that I thought to find my way over to what had been the Houston Oilers headquarters.
Let's be clear -- it was a dump back in 1996. I did my best to dodge airplane-sized mosquitoes during sweltering hot practices. The locker room, weight room and meetings rooms were at 2727 El Camino, but the executive offices were down the street in an office park.
Now, the gate that rolled to a close to offer some privacy doesn't appear to be working. The Oilers' building is revamped into Harris County offices for four or five departments including the Harris Country Street Olympics. Hermethia Haynes, the first person you see when you enter, told me anyone taking a tour is told the Oilers were once housed there.
On the practice field that was closest to the locker rooms, there is a new building -- 2731 El Camino houses the Johnnie Means Swimming Pool. The facility offers free swimming lessons for kids and a competitive swim team -- the Mighty Dolphins of the Harris Country Aquatics Program (HCAP).
The other fields are a mess, with black paths laid across some of them in what seems a haphazard fashion. Swimmers run there sometimes to get loose.
You'd never know Warren Moon worked there unless they told you.