Houston Texans first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans was at Minute Maid Park on Monday, and it was not to recruit Houston Astros left fielder/designated hitter Yordan Alvarez to play on defense, even though Alvarez is a prototypical edge rusher with a muscular 6-foot-5-inch frame.
Ryans was in attendance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Astros was set to take on the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the three-game series.
“I grew up a big baseball fan, so to have an opportunity to do this, throw out the first pitch, is a huge honor,” said Ryans to the media before his pitch. “Hopefully, they will give me an opportunity to warm up.”
It was a break in the action from his normal day-to-day activities of preparing the Texans for the upcoming 2023 NFL season that will begin against the Baltimore Ravens in September. Ryans completed overseeing his first rookie minicamp as he finally got an opportunity to get an up close and personal look at quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. who were taken No. 2 and No. 3 overall in the 2023 NFL draft.
Ryans spent the first five years of his NFL career in Houston after being selected in the second round in 2006, so being hired as the head coach of the franchise that allowed him to play football on the highest level is a blessing for him, and the fans show their appreciation every time, they interact with him.
“It’s like coming home,” Ryans said about returning to Houston. “It has been fun. It has been a warm welcome from the city. It has been a lot of energy. The fans are fired up, I am fired up, and our team is fired up. We are excited to get started, and we are very thankful for all the support we get throughout the city.”
If football would not have worked for Ryans, baseball was his backup option, having played catcher growing up and watching Bo Jackson, who is from his hometown of Bessemer, Alabama. Jackson was a two-star professional athlete who played running back for the Oakland Raiders and center field for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Although Ryans finished his playing career in Philadelphia in 2015 and spent five years with the San Francisco 49ers, he always kept up with the Astros’ progress and watched them become two-time World Series Champions.
“I kept up with it for a while, and this Astros run has been amazing,” said Ryans. “They’re always there in the end; they’re champions. They have a championship atmosphere, and it’s what we want to bring from…