Before Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair and his wife, Texans foundation vice president Hannah McNair, presented a check for $450,000 to Jack Yates High School to resurface its athletic field along with donating the Texans’ artificial field surface, Rodney Ellis delivered a powerful message that resonated across the field where the late George Floyd was once a star football player.
One year after Floyd was murdered by since-convicted and fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Ellis expressed hope that the field will be renamed after the Yates graduate and former resident of the nearby Cuney Homes public housing complex.
The Harris County Commissioner Precinct One honored Floyd, whose family, including his brother, Philonise Floyd, attended the ceremony Friday afternoon.
“We're here today because one year ago a graduate of this school died on the street in Minneapolis because somebody had the ability to put their foot on his neck,” Ellis said. “Say his name: ‘George Floyd.’ We regret that somebody had to die so that we would do this. We ought to take this and see what lessons we can learn and in what ways we're all inspired to do better
“Cal and Hannah McNair, thank you, because you did not have to commit to make the sizable donation that you are going to make today to put this field at a historically Black public school right here in the heart of Third Ward. Thank you very much.”
The Texans, the NFL foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation donated a check of $450,000 to the Yates to renovate and resurface the field. Plus, the Texans' artificial playing surface from NRG Stadium will be installed to provide an extra in-kind donation valued at $1.25 million. The project, funded in part by an NFL Grassroots Program Grant, is still seeking donations to complete the installation. To donate to this project through Change Happens, visit https://www.changehappenstx.org/jack-yates-athletic.
“The Houston Texans are excited to continue to support this ongoing process and eventually bring it to reality,” Cal McNair said. “The field is five-plus years in the making and part of our lifelong commitment to the community. This is about the students, the student-athletes and about continuing to give them the opportunities that they so richly deserve. We're happy to come together with our community and some of our business partners to collaborate on this project.
“We're proud to donate the Texans artificial playing surface from NRG Park to be installed in the new field here at Jack Yates. This donation will continue the tradition of donating the Texans' playing surface to community I know this project has been a dream for a long time and we're excited to see it take shape. There's always more work to be done, but this is a great step."
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.