Golden Nugget Lake Charles Welcomes The High-Tech Texan (and all Texans)

When it comes to gambling, eating, sipping cocktails, playing in the sun or – heck – just about living life to its fullest, I am your man.  This fact is not hard to figure out since Las Vegas is my most-visited city in the U.S.  (confession – but don’t be a hater – I’ve already been to Vegas 4x this year alone).  But instead of hopping a flight for all this fun I may have found my new hangout just a few hours drive from Houston.

Golden Nugget Lake Charles Casino. (PRNewsFoto/Landry's)

The Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, Louisiana, opened in December 2014, and I recently spent a Friday night at this palatial playground near the swamp lands.  My crew and I headed eastbound along Interstate 10 to broadcast my radio show from “the Nugget” and we experienced a wonderful time from arrival to departure.  The $700 million project came into view as we crossed over the I-210 bridge.  Thoughts of ringing slot machines and stacks of casino chips in my head had me more excited than seeing Space Mountain the first time I approached Disney World as a kid.

Walking into the hotel was akin to entering one of the glitzy hotel casinos in Las Vegas.  That is a high compliment from me as I have been in many casinos around the world that looked similar to my upstairs poker room at home.  The marble floor and high ceiling gives the lobby and casino a roomy feel.  Several retail shops dotted the aisles and I caught a glimpse of several restaurants throughout the ground floor.  More on this later as restaurants play a large part of the Golden Nugget since it is owned and operated by Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta.  Yes, that Tilman Fertitta of Landry’s Inc. fame and fortune.

Check in was quick and simple probably because I was staring at the large window behind the counter which overlooks the H20 pool and bar.  It was a Friday afternoon and the outdoor area looked rocking as tanned guests were wading around the swim-up bar.

My pool view room with balcony overlooked this same scene and I could not wait to get down there to sample the libations and do a quick site check for my radio broadcast location the next day.  But I spent a while in the nicely appointed room looking at the many features.  500 square feet of space included a large soaker tub, king size bed, 42″ TV, stand-up shower and a dining nook.  I’m not sure how many guests utilize the small table and chairs to eat as we soon found out there are so many things to do to keep you downstairs.

The pool scene was indeed loud and fun.  Cabanas are spaced around the adult pool and bar (21 and up) with a large stage for DJs, concerts and other entertainment.  A lazy river is adjacent to the adult pool winding its way around a waterfall and under foot bridges.Golden Nugget photo4

Back to the restaurants.  It is hard to determine whether this facility was built around the restaurants of Fertitta’s empire or the hotel/casino just happened to place a Fertitta-owned restaurant every few feet along the spacious corridors.  Familiar brands can be found throughout the grounds including Saltgrass Steakhouse, Grotto, Landry’s Seafood House, and Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar.  We wanted to go all out for dinner so we opted for Vic & Anthony’s, a top steakhouse with locations in Houston and Las Vegas.

V&A General Manager Craig Harrington was inviting and worked the elegant dining room filled with guests dressed in sport coats, blue jeans and even shorts.  An order of maple glazed quail and a jumbo lump crabcake started us off.  Those appetizers quickly gave way to a table full of prime porterhouse, organic lamb chops, blackened scallops and grits, and of course there was a lobster tail.  The wine list is extensive and – my personal affection to a bar – the bourbon collection was first rate.

Golden Nugget photo2Once our bellies were full and happy it was time for one of my favorite ways to kill time and money (or hopefully make money)…the casino.  The Golden Nugget has 70 gaming tables and 1,600 slot machines.  This Friday night seemed busy and it took a little while to find an open spot at a craps table.  But once I realized there was 20x odds on the numbers all was well.  A large bar sits in the middle of the casino floor which makes for a nice place to relax and meet on the couches or tabletops.  A high roller section is situated in the back of the casino with its own bar and higher minimum tables and slot machines.  I did not notice a VIP lounge on the casino floor but, alas, there may be one somewhere for actual VIPs.

The staff was friendly whether they paid you winnings or took your losses.  This was a real Vegas “feel” which is hard to replicate outside of those large Nevada casinos.

Saturday morning found us broadcasting my radio show back to Houston (KPRC 950AM) and the world (iHeartRadio app).  The marketing staff found a wonderful location for our booth with a backdrop just a few feet away from the sparkling water and in-pool lounges.  My guests on the show included the property’s executives from the resort, operations, and beverage departments as we learned some of the interesting facts about the gleaming property.  [Note to self:  I need to visit again soon to play the recently-opened Country Club 18 hole golf course]  And our good friend Craig Harrington stopped by to bring some more delicious snacks from Vic & Anthony’s.

After the 2 hour show it was time to pack up the radio gear and change into swim gear.  We hung out the rest of the afternoon in a cabana which I recommend reserving if you have several people in your party.  It provided a nice place for shade with couches, small refrigerator stocked with bottled water, and a TV.Golden Nugget photo1

Our quick 24 hour visit left a great impression on us and many of my radio listeners.  Lake Charles has become a booming destination for entertainment for southerners but especially with Texans who daily cross the border in hoards.   Until Texas approves legalized casino gambling (hint: do not hold your breath) this will continue to be a hot place to visit.  The Golden Nugget is shiniest new star in the area and I can’t wait to go back.

Listen to The High-Tech Texan Show podcast from the Golden Nugget:

Hour 1

Hour 2

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Beat The Heat With A Non-Stop Visit To Vail

What’s the deal with Colorado?  Why do so many people flock to this land-locked state not just to play in the winter snow but to soak up the summer fun in its high altitude?

I don’t look into these questions too deeply.  I simply visit the Rocky Mountain state regularly – seemingly a few times each year – and thank God I’m a country boy.  Last year the family visited Beaver Creek, minus my oldest son who was at summer camp.  After seeing our photos and hearing our stories, the kid insisted he make the next trip with us.  And thus the Garfield Colorado trip of summer 2014 included him and his two younger brothers.

The allure of the mountains west of Denver called us again.  This time just a few miles down from Beaver Creek to Vail.  This destination, like last year’s, makes for convenient travel thanks to non-stop flights from Texas into Eagle County Regional Airport (EGE).  United Airlines has several weekly flights directly into this cozy airport from George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport while American Airlines operates service from D/FW.

The trip from EGE to Vail took about 30 minutes in a comfy SUV driven by Colorado Mountain Express.  Our driver pulled into what we would call home base for the next few days, The Sebastian, a resort located near the foot of the Vail mountainside.

The Sebastian is a Trip Advisor Four Diamond property is a chic social hub for owners, hotel guests and the local community.  The inviting lobby offers a roaring fireplace, plush couches and some of the friendliest staff I have met during my travels.

It is a wonderful place for families for many reasons including the variety of room choices and suites.  And when traveling with kids one of my rules has been to put those boys in their own rooms.  We checked into a three bedroom suite overlooking the 11,450 foot tall mountain complete with kitchen, dining area and washer/dryer.  It was a big suite.  I barely saw the kids when we were in there.

The next several days found us eating, hiking, climbing, fishing, eating, laughing, swimming and eating.  Maybe it was the thin air but our appetites were big and the food did not disappoint.  From small sandwich shops to the luxurious restaurants in The Sebastian, we added back the weight that we lost throughout our active days.

Leonora, an Alpine Bistro & Tapas Bar, offers fresh, local and organic ingredients with tapas, crudo and Alpine bistro fare   The wine list is extensive but I was more impressed with their bourbon selection (you know me).  Frost is the bar you can never pass up as it is just off the lobby.  The warm atmosphere has an amazing adventure in microbrew and bartenders who take pride in the art of mixology.  I can imagine how rocking this place is for après ski.

One of the more famous eateries in the village is the Vail Chophouse, situated a few yards away from the bottom of the mountain.  I can imagine patrons visiting during the winter skiing directly onto the patio and partaking in a late-afternoon cocktail while still attached to their skis.  Red meat is aplenty in the chic yet comfy restaurant.  I’m more of a seafood guy and the menu did not disappoint.  A three-tiered seafood smorgasbord of lobster tail, oysters, jumbo shrimp and crab legs could have sufficed for my dinner but I still had the perfectly grilled salmon a main course.

While the kids enjoyed the chophouse burger and, of course, chicken tenders they were eager to catch some food of their own out of the local rivers and creeks.  The following morning found us knee-deep in Eagle River slowly casting fly rods into the cool running water.   I tried to explain to the boys that fly fishing is vastly different from the fishing they have grown up with in the Texas lakes and Gulf of Mexico.  This is an active sport that takes a different technique and some guidance, which Daddy could not provide.

So some expert anglers from Gore Creek Fly Fishing led us on a half-day experience that we won’t soon forget.  After suiting up with waders and getting state fishing licenses we received hands-on lessons on the way to catch trout in the local waters using flies and a rod.  I have been fly fishing before and was a bit concerned the boys would have a little difficulty getting the casting motion down and reaching the goal – catching fish.  Guess who caught fish before the old man?  All three kids.

Our guide told us that fly fishing can be a sport enjoyed throughout the year but the summertime is when the best fishing happens.  Not to mention you could be standing in an ice pond come winter.  We caught and released nearly a dozen rainbow and brown trout but not before taking photos with our booty and prepping our stories to tell of the whoppers we caught.

3,000 feet above that river sits the summit of Vail Mountain.  There are a few ways of traversing the steep mountainside.  While we saw hikers and bikers trek up and down the dirt trails we decided the 10 minute ascent in an enclosed gondola was more our speed.  Atop the mountain are breathtaking views of the Gore and Sawatch Ranges.  And more adventure.

Adventure Ridge provides daylong fun for all ages.  A zip line allows you to soar a few hundred yards down the mountain and a ropes course provides a challenging way to prove to your kids that your parents still have a bit of athleticism.  The three-level ropes course was one of the most memorable parts of our trip as it not only tasked us with problem-solving ways on maneuvering but also incredible views of the mountaintop and surrounding area.

Back down at the base of the mountain Vail provides its own exhilaration and views.  The layout of the town allows for relaxing strolls down narrow streets populated with taverns, shops, boutique hotels and family gathering places.  Vail Village encompasses the east end of town and has an old world Bavarian-style charm.  Covered wooden bridges provide picturesque walkways over Gore Creek.  A pint of ale (or hot cocoa for the kids) makes for a nice afternoon stop on flower-covered tavern patio.

A newer town center-style area in the Village seemed to be the hot spot during our stay.  A large green space surrounded by shops and condos allowed the kids to run around, toss a football and kick a soccer ball.  This is the same space an ice rink occupies during the winter months and I can only imagine how inviting that setting is.

A short walk or a quick, free bus ride away is Lionshead on the west side of Vail.  I found this section of town to be a bit more modern with newer architecture yet still retaining a village-style feel.  What could be described as a high-end outdoor mall includes a space for a wintertime ice rink, shops, ice cream and pizza joints, and more inviting taverns, restaurants and bars.  Between meals we found time to stop off at Blue Moose Pizza in this area for design-your-own slices and soda.

Back in Vail Village we decided to spend one evening challenging our taste buds and bowling skills in the modish Bol.  Gourmet food and 12 pound bowling balls just can’t be beat.  We reserved a colorful lane flanked by large TV screens and ordered chef-prepared burgers, steaks, fries and seafood while participating in the Garfield Boys Bowlathon.  Finally something I could win.

When planning a visit to Vail during the summer I would suggest scheduling a Sunday to experience the Farmer’s Market & Art Show.  Colorado’s finest are showcased including locally grown produce, international dishes, fresh baked goods and even Colorado wine.  The Art Show feeds travelers’ creativity offering everything from beautiful clothing and jewelry to handmade home items.

Sure we could have played golf on one the nearby courses.  White water rafting trips also enticed us as did hiking and biking tours.  But we couldn’t decide who was more tuckered out – dad or kids – from our adventures in eating, fishing, and well you know the rest.  And there was no shortage of ways to relax especially back at The Sebastian.  The swimming pool and hot tubs provided a nice respite.  The spa and gym also make leaving the property tough.

The hardest part of our visit was packing up realizing we were about to leave a climate that averages 75 degrees during the day and 45 degrees at night would soon give way to the heat and humidity of home back in Texas.  An easy ride back to Eagle County Regional Airport via Colorado Mountain Express was a final hurrah to end our boys’ getaway.

As I have written before, for those that imagine Colorado as a place to only enjoy the winter, my simple advice is to GO WEST, young man.  Thanks to non-stop flights directly into the most beautiful parts of the state there is no reason to swelter and sweat in your hometown this summer.

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Series: Steps To Make Your Home Smart

Thermostats. Cameras. Lighting. Window shades. Refrigerators. TVs. Audio systems.

This is just a brief list of things in your home that can be updated, upgraded and integrated into a “smart home.” One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “what is the simplest way to make a smart home.” My answer isn’t that simple as there are many ways to do it including DIY kits, hiring contractors, using cloud servers vs. on-site storage, etc…

So it is time to do some show-and-tell on bringing your home or apartment into the 21st century. Over the next few months we will be adding and installing products and services in a new home while documenting the research, installation and usage. We will be adding videos, stories, links and suggestions on how to plan for a new home or just retrofitting an existing home.

Send your suggestions or favorite products to us and we will incorporate your ideas into this series. Tune in to “The High-Tech Texan Show” on iHeartRadio and on stations across the country to hear our thoughts and listen to product and industry experts. And maybe we will give away a few items to get you started.

Get Smart! (Sorry about that, Chief)

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Verizon Launches All You Can Eat LTE Data Plan

Today Verizon launched an unlimited LTE data plan, called Verizon Unlimited.  The plan starts at $80 a month for one line or $45 a line for a group of four on smartphones or tablets. Both new and existing subscribers can sign up.  Those prices are described as “introductory” and require both paperless billing and AutoPay to be enabled. Customers will get full LTE speeds until they reach 22GB of usage, after which they’ll be subject to slower data speeds.

The move marks the first time in more than five years that Verizon, the nation’s largest carrier in terms of total subscribers, will have an unlimited offering.  Verizon says the plan also provides unlimited calling and texting to Canada and Mexico, along with 500 MB a day of LTE data in those countries.

I spoke with Verizon’s South Central Market President, Krista Bourne, today to get more information.  You can hear the audio below.

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VIDEO: One-on-One with NASCAR’s Joey Logano

The Super Bowl was just held in Houston to end the NFL season.  The “Super Bowl of NASCAR” will be held in just two weeks as the Daytona 500 begins the racing season.  Last year’s runner-up Joey Logano was in town to see his New England Patriots pull a great come from behind win.  I caught up with him the day after the big game to talk about his love of sports, changes to the NASCAR points system and what a new title sponsor to the Championship series means.  As we all know it’s all about sponsors so thanks to the Shell Pennzoil team for having me out at their headquarters to hang with Joey.

 

 

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VIDEO: Super Bowl Security In Houston

Super Bowl LIVE is the hub of all the downtown action surrounding the NFL’s showcase event in Houston this week.  Here is my look at how Verizon is monitoring everything around the area while feeding data and info to the Houston Police Department.  Also, check out the Charging Hub from Ventev to keep everyone’s devices charged up during the big game. – courtesy HOUSTON LIFE (KPRC-TV, NBC)

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WATCH – Unboxing Super Bowl LI Ticket

It’s not everyday you can actually unbox a ticket.  But when the ticket is a seat at the Super Bowl and purchased through the NFL’s official hospitality division – On Location Experiences, the packaging better rock your world after a minimum price tag of $7,249.

Here is a look at the Elite package ticket box.  Tip: sit down first, turn up the volume and close your mouth so you don’t drool on your phone.  Yes that is a video player that automatically plays when opened.  This package sold by NFL On Location includes a game ticket, entry to the on-site tailgate party featuring Lady Antebellum and all the food and drink you can handle, and access (which I presume means forking over even more cash) to hotels and Bruno Mars’ appearance at Club Nomadic on Friday night.

Oh and look what arrived a few days later.  A boxed set of glasses with the Super Bowl LI logo.  The NFL says to “expect more surprises” up through game time.  Can we assume a set of steak knives?


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Club Nomadic Almost Ready For It’s 3-Night Legacy

The pop-up nightclub known as Club Nomadic went from a dirt lot near downtown Houston back in November to an almost-ready, sleek, techno venue that will host tens of thousands of Super Bowl-themed revelers.  The media got a sneak peek of the 64,000 square, 3 level structure just off Washington Ave.

Jack Murphy, president of Nomadic Entertainment Group, hosted a tour of the facility while proclaiming the finishing touches will be done in time for the first event on Thursday, February 2.  EA Sports will host a function featuring The Chainsmokers.  Bruno Mars appears the next night courtesy of Pepsi’s LIFEWTR brand.  Saturday night finds DIRECTV sponsoring Taylor Swift.  According to Mr. Murphy the facility can hold up to 9,000 people with over 5,500 on the main floor.  Upper levels are reserved for sponsors and VIPs who will receive “white glove treatment.”

Most tickets have been sold however some Bruno Mars tickets will be released this Friday at 10am through Ticketmaster.  Tickets are $175.

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The Taste Of The NFL – Ready, Set, EAT!

Here’s the deal…I like food.  Food festivals are great.  Add some liquor and it’s heaven.  For the past 26 years one of the largest and most successful food events has been The Taste Of The NFL.  It features a chef from each NFL city serving their signature dish alongside a current or alumni NFL player.  Add that up and you get more than 35 food stations where to sample the fine cuisine, meet and take photos with famous chefs, NFL greats and participate in a silent auction with unique sports memorabilia and other exciting items.

This year’s strolling gastronomical feast will be held at the University of Houston on Saturday, February 4.  VIP entry begins at 6pm and the rest of the crowd flows in at 7pm.  They better hope the VIPs don’t eat everything that first hour.

The event is billed as the Party With A Purpose with proceeds from benefiting food banks in each of the 32 NFL cities, with special emphasis this year placed on the Houston Food Bank.  Tickets usually sell out but can still be had as I type this for $700.

I recently spoke with the Founder and Executive Director of the organization, Wayne Kostroski.  Here is the audio where you can hear his passion and enthusiasm for the event.  Listen to my show on KPRC 950AM and iHeartRadio to win a pair of tickets.

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Houston Super Bowl Events – The List

Everyone is going gaga (you get it, right?) over the Super Bowl being held here in Houston.  It will be the third time the city as hosted the big game and the first since 2004.  In those thirteen years since, I remember traffic, parties, craziness, traffic, celebrities, TV, food, Snoop Dogg, traffic and football.  We expect much of the same this time around time.

To help navigate all the fun here is a listing of the official NFL events being held around the area.  This doesn’t count the hundreds of private functions that will most likely account for the real craziness and the big publicity.  I’ve got those covered for you, too.

 

NFL, NATIONAL AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS POSITIVELY IMPACT THE REGION  

Super Bowl LI brings much more than football to the Houston area. Throughout the weeks preceding the game, more than 30 charitable activities and community outreach events will enrich the community and provide lasting legacies.  

Super Bowl Week activities include the announcement of the annual Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide winner, the first-ever live American Heart Association-NFL PLAY 60 Challenge Virtual Field Trip, a series of community projects made possible by millions of dollars in NFL Foundation Super Bowl Legacy Grants and the Super Bowl LI Host Committee and a number of youth character development events including an InSideOut Character Initiative Forum and the NFL’s Women’s Summit. 

During the week, the NFL Verizon will host an Unsung Heroes luncheon for volunteers and employees at local domestic violence and sexual assault prevention organizations and shelters. The league is also working with local organizations on social issues including human trafficking, providing financial grants to address issues in the Houston area.

The following are just some of the ways the NFL and Super Bowl LI will positively impact the community.

Note: NFL player names will be added in the daily media advisories.

NFL EXPERIENCE DRIVEN BY GENESIS

NFL Experience Driven by Genesis – pro football’s interactive theme park –  will return to Houston for the first time since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2004, this event offers fans a unique chance to get involved in the festivities surrounding Super Bowl LI, offering interactive games, youth football clinics, merchandise from NFL Shop presented by Visa, player autograph sessions and more.

Celebrating the history of the game and electrifying atmosphere of Super Bowl LI, NFL Experience Driven by Genesis at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28 – 29 and again Wednesday-Sunday, Feb. 1 – 5.

The hub of Super Bowl fan activity, NFL Experience provides visitors of all ages an opportunity to experience the game like never before. Fans can test their football skills in interactive games, receive autographs from current stars and legends of the game, shop the latest NFL team and Super Bowl gear in the NFL’s largest retail space in the nation, and get a photo with the most prestigious trophy in sports, the Vince Lombardi Trophy. For more information and a complete schedule of events for NFL Experience Driven by Genesis visit www.SuperBowl.com and download the Super Bowl LI Houston – Fan Mobile Pass app.

Tickets for NFL Experience Driven by Genesis can be purchased online exclusively through www.Ticketmaster.com.   Tickets are $35.00 for adults and $25.00 for children 12 and under, and permit entry for a particular day and time. An NFLXtra Fast Pass may be purchased for $55.00. Beginning Jan. 28, opening day of NFL Experience Driven by Genesis, fans can purchase tickets at NFL Experience Box Office located in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Tickets sold at NFL Experience box office will go on sale two hours before opening daily.  For more information and to find out about special family packages available online only, visit www.SuperBowl.com. Tickets purchased online are subject to a Ticketmaster service charge.

On Thursday, Feb. 2 local high school students will receive a $5 discount at NFL Experience Driven by Genesis.

2017 NFL Experience Driven by Genesis Hours of Operation:

Saturday, Jan. 28                                10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 29                                   10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 1                              3 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 2                                 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 3                                      10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 4                                  10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Super Bowl Sunday (February 5)         10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

(Times are local – Central Time – and are subject to change)

The complete schedule for NFL Experience Driven by Genesis, and other Super Bowl LI gameday and event information, will be posted on www.SuperBowl.com and in the Super Bowl LI Houston – Fan Mobile Pass app. To download the app, visit the app store or www.NFL.com/SBApp.  Fans are encouraged to follow @SuperBowl and tag their posts and photos using hashtag #SB51.

SUPER BOWL LIVE

Super Bowl LIVE is the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee’s nine-day fan festival leading up to Super Bowl LI in Houston. The festival, a free event with music, food, games and attractions, will be located in and around Discovery Green Park (1500 McKinney St.) in downtown Houston from Saturday, Jan. 28 through Saturday, Feb. 5.

The Host Committee has partnered with NASA to create Future Flight, the signature attraction of Super Bowl LIVE. Future Flight combines a virtual reality experience with a 90-foot drop tower that takes passengers on a trip to Mars and back, landing just in time for Super Bowl LI.  

A series of concerts will take place on the Super Bowl LIVE main stage including SOLANGE KNOWLES, ROBERT GLASPER and LIZZO on Thursday, Feb. 2; LEON BRIDGES, SHAKEY GRAVES and ROBERT ELLIS on Friday, Feb. 3; and ZZ TOP, GARY CLARK JR. and THE SUFFERS on Saturday, Feb. 4.  Houston-based performers will also be on the main and secondary stage throughout the week, including bands THE TONTONS, WILD MOCCASINS, LOS SKARNALES, NICK GAITAN, FAT TONY, BUXTON and many more.

In addition, the Host Committee has created two Super Bowl LIVE programming opportunities aimed at bringing local youth from different communities together. Touchdown Houston continues to bring the Super Bowl experience to local youth with inclusive and fun Play On activities.

Flag Football
The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee has invited local community youth football teams to experience the excitement of the Super Bowl by squaring off in flag football games. Participating teams hail from various parts of the city and will get their taste of the spotlight as they engage in friendly competition in Root Memorial Square before thousands of Super Bowl LIVE visitors.  The games will include special half-time performances from the club cheerleading teams, local marching pep bands and dance teams.  The flag football games will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28-29 and Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3- 4 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Play LIVE with Playworks
The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee has partnered with Playworks to provide children and families from the Greater Houston area an hour of fun and games through football-themed activities, four-square, tag, and much more.  School-age youth can participate in these activities which promote positive social values, higher self-esteem, and a healthy lifestyle during the play hour.  Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that leverages the power of safe, fun and healthy play at school every day. To learn more about Playworks, go to www.playworks.org. The Play LIVE with Playworks will take place Saturday, and Sunday, Jan. 28-29 and Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4 from 2-3 p.m.

Super Bowl LIVE Hours of Operation:

Saturday, Jan. 28                                10 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 29                                   10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 30                                  3 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 31                                 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 1                              3 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 2                                 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 3                                      10 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 4                                  10 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Super Bowl Sunday (February 5)         10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

HOUSTON SUPER BOWL HOST COMMITTEE PROJECT 51

Project 51 encourages Houston high school students to get involved in their community by collectively pledging 51,000 hours of community service in the months preceding Super Bowl LI. Students and schools will be recognized for their community service by the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL Youth & High School Football department.  Project 51 supports the Host Committee’s Lead On initiative which encourages students to be active leaders in their schools and community.  Those making a pledge could win tickets to Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled by Gatorade, a tour of NRG Stadium or a Meet and Greet with an NFL player. 

The promotion period began at 12 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016 and ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 23. For official rules, please visit www.houstoncommitteeproject51.com.

NFL PLAY 60 CHARACTER CAMP

On Monday, Jan. 30 at 9 a.m., the NFL will host a free Character Camp on the field at NFL Experience Driven by Genesis at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) before NFL Experience is open to the public. The event will include 300 predominantly-Hispanic youth from the Houston area. The non-contact football camp will be led by Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle ANTHONY MUÑOZ.  

The NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps program is a partnership between the NFL and the Muñoz Agency.  The mission of the camps are to make a positive impact on youth through teaching football skills, emphasizing exercise, and reinforcing the importance of character in athletics and life.  The camp is part of a series of NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps hosted as part of the NFL’s year-round Hispanic outreach initiative, focused on offering youth opportunities to play and experience the game of football. Since the inception of NFL PLAY 60 Character Camps in 2012, over 60 camps have been held impacting more than 20,000 youth across the country. 

NFL PLAY 60 CHALLENGE SCHOOL VISIT

The NFL and Houston Texans players will visit Frank Black Middle School (1575 Chantilly Ln.) on Monday, Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. to reward them for successfully completing the Super Bowl LI edition of the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge. The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, developed in conjunction with the American Heart Association, is the primary in-school curriculum for NFL PLAY 60. Sixth-grade students at Frank Black Middle School successfully completed the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, a Super Bowl program that taught students the importance of getting 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Frank Black Middle School will also receive a $2,500 NFL PLAY 60 grant from the NFL and American Heart Association to be used to support the school’s health and fitness education efforts.

More than 24,000 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from Houston counties including Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker, and Waller registered for the Challenge in the months leading up to Super Bowl. The schools that successfully completed the Challenge are invited to NFL PLAY 60 Kids Day at NFL Experience Driven by Genesis, on Wednesday, Feb. 1 (description below).  

NFL PLAY 60 CHALLENGE VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP

On Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 12:00 p.m. CT live from the NFL Experience Driven by Genesis at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas), the NFL and American Heart Association (AHA), working together with Discovery Education, will lead the first-ever AHA-NFL PLAY 60 Challenge Virtual Field Trip (VFT). The virtual class, featuring Houston Texans’ players WHITNEY MERCILUS and CHRISTIAN COVINGTON and AHA’s DR. MERCEDES CARNETHON, will be live-streamed in classrooms across the country, reaching thousands of students. In the VFT, students will learn the science behind cardio and strength exercises that NFL players use to stay fit. Mercilus and Covington will lead participating classrooms in quick physical activity sessions, after which students nationwide will have the opportunity to ask the VFT hosts live questions. The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge is designed to inspire youth to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day and help more schools become places that encourage physically active lifestyles year-round.

Registration for the VFT is free. To register your classroom or follow along at home, visit: http://www.aha-nflplay60challenge.org/field-trip.

SUPER BOWL LI INSIDEOUT CHARACTER INITIATIVE FORUM

The InSideOut Initiative recognizes the significant role coaches play in students’ lives, and aims to shift the current win-at-all-costs sports culture to one of a four-part process centering on Awareness, Alignment, Action and Accountability. The initiative focuses on the purpose, power and privilege of coaching, and the responsibility coaches have to young athletes. The InSideOut Initiative will debut in Houston on Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.at the Houston Texans YMCA (5202 Griggs Rd.). Former NFL player and author of InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives JOE EHRMANN and Executive Director of the InSideOut Initiative JODY REDMAN will take more than 100 Houston high school educational leaders and coaches on an InSideOut journey to examine their own character and to assist in the development of a coach-specific character game plan that will enhance the human growth and development of the student-athletes they coach.

NFL-USO SUPER BOWL LI SALUTE TO SERVICE

The NFL and the USO continue to celebrate more than 50 years of partnership with Salute to Service. The NFL is proud to bring football to the USO family through programs and services year-round that tap the unique capabilities of football and help keep service members connected to family, home and country.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m., the NFL, USO and Houston Texans will host a barbeque to celebrate over 3,000 service members and their families at Ellington Field Joint Base Reserve. The event will feature NFL player meet and greets, photo opportunities with Houston Texans cheerleaders, music by Texas Marine Veteran CODY WAYNE, an NFL PLAY 60 zone for kids, a Madden Tournament and an NFL Raffle.

Additionally, Super Bowl care packages, which included branded Super Bowl LI decorations and promotional items, have been sent to 60 USO locations around the globe in support of their Super Bowl viewing parties.

NFL-USAA MILITARY OUTREACH

The following is a sampling of additional events planned for service members and their families in the Houston Area during Super Bowl Week:

  • USAA will host current and former military and their guests at the “USAA Salute to Service Lounge” within NFL Experience. The Lounge will be open both Friday, Feb. 3 and Saturday, Feb. 4 and serves as an exclusive area for current and former military members and their families to enjoy complimentary food and beverage, games, NFL player meet and greets and more.
  • The NFL and USAA will recognize the winner of the 2016 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA at the 6th Annual NFL Honors awards show at the Wortham Theater Center on Saturday, Feb. 4, the night before Super Bowl LI. Created in 2011, the Salute to Service Award acknowledges the members of the NFL for their exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community and their families.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS SKILLS AND DRILLS

The NFL, Special Olympics Texas and the Houston Texans will host a Special Olympics Skills and Drills Clinic and unified flag football scrimmage Friday, Feb. 3 from 1:30-3 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) featuring local Special Olympics athletes.

The NFL and Special Olympics are teaming to provide opportunities for athletes of all abilities to ‘PLAY 60’ through the expansion of Special Olympics Unified Flag Football. The two organizations will kick off their new partnership by hosting a unified flag football game at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando during Pro Bowl Week.

PLAY 60 is the NFL’s campaign to promote youth health and wellness, aimed at encouraging kids to get active for 60 minutes a day. For more information, visit NFLRUSH.com/PLAY60.

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. They empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners in 169 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year.

PLAY FOOTBALL FAMILY FESTIVAL

To celebrate the football community and the coaches and players that bring passion, fun and excitement to the sport, the NFL will host a Play Football Family Festival on Tuesday, Jan. 31 and Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Taylor High School Performing Arts Center (2700 Kingsland Blvd, Katy) and the Aldine Campbell Center (1865 Aldine Bender Rd, Houston). The event will kick off with football clinics, taking parents through drills and introducing them to different elements of the game. Guests will then go through a helmet fitting, receive autographs from NFL players and enjoy entertainment elements such as photo opportunities, breakout panel sessions led by NFL Ambassadors and local high school coaches and food and beverages. The festival will conclude with an NFL player-led TED Talk.

To learn more about Play Football visit playfootball.com or follow #LetsPlayFootball on social media.

SUPER BOWL LI BUSINESS CONNECT CELEBRATION

The NFL and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee will host “Super Bowl LI Business Connect: Celebrating Opportunities & Success” event on Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. at the Ballroom at the Bayou (500 Texas Street, Houston, TX 77002). The event is a celebration of the Super Bowl LI Business Connect program spotlighting the accomplishments of Super Bowl LI Business Connect suppliers and local businesses that have grown and thrived under the tutelage of the program’s professional development initiatives and, acknowledging NFL event contractors who’ve aggressively utilized the program throughout the year.

More than 400 Houston businesses in 50 vendor categories participated in the year and a half long Business Connect program, which is designed to create Super Bowl LI contracting opportunities for experienced, local diverse business owners. To qualify for participation in Business Connect, businesses must be 51 percent owned by a minority, woman, disabled veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender individual. The Business Connect Celebration is a ticketed event for participating business owners. A networking reception will precede and follow the formal program. Former NFL Cornerback and Food Network Star Winner Eddie Jackson is the event’s keynote speaker.

NFL PLAY 60 KIDS’ DAY AT NFL EXPERIENCE

NFL PLAY 60 Kids’ Day gives more than 1,000 local children the opportunity to spend time with NFL players at the NFL Experience Driven by Genesis at the George R Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas) on Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Children from the local Houston area will take part in the excitement of Super Bowl Week alongside NFL players. Multi-platinum recording artist and Grammy Award winner JORDIN SPARKS will perform two songs and teach the kids a dance routine at the NFL Experience Field at approximately noon.

Kids will learn more about the importance of healthy living during Kids’ Day as part of NFL PLAY 60, aimed at helping youngsters get 60 minutes of exercise each day. Classrooms earned their invite to Kids’ Day by completing the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, in partnership with the American Heart Association, in the months leading up to Super Bowl.

As part of their Kids’ Day experience, local children will participate in interactive PLAY 60 fitness activities and take part in games including Punt, Pass & Kick, speed and mobility drills, quarterback challenge games, and extra point kicking stations.

HOUSTON HABITAT FOR HUMANITY SUPERBUILD

On Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., Houston Habitat for Humanity (HHFH) is sponsoring SuperBUILD LI at 8706 Shady Vista Ln.  The event is hosted in conjunction with Super Bowl LI to build 51 affordable homes for partner families. A sanctioned NFL event since 2003, SuperBUILD provides affordable housing options for low to moderate income families through volunteerism. HHFH will invite NFL players to visit the job sites, participate in home dedications and celebrate with families who were able to achieve their dream of homeownership.

NFL PLAYER CARE FOUNDATION SCREENINGS

On Wednesday-Friday, Feb. 13, the NFL Player Care Foundation (PCF), supported by the NFL Alumni Association, are proud to partner with one of the nation’s premier medical providers, Tulane University School of Medicine, to conduct its annual Super Bowl Healthy Body and Mind Screening program.  This complimentary national program is open to all former NFL players and includes cardiovascular and prostate screenings and mental health resources and education.

NFL Player Care Foundation screenings are offered as part of PCF’s research programs, which help to advance public awareness and scientific understanding of health issues that affect former NFL players.  The screening will take place at the Houston Marriott at the Texas Medical Center (6580 Fannin St., Salons A, B & C) from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

The PCF is an independent foundation created in 2007 by a partnership between NFL owners, the NFL Players Association, Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the NFL Alumni Association.  Since its inception, the organization has screened more than 4,000 retired NFL players and provided over $11 million in emergency financial assistance.  For more information, visit nflplayercare.com.

SUPER BOWL LEGACY GRANT EVENT

The NFL seeks to improve the surrounding communities of the Super Bowl host city with a Super Bowl Legacy Grant donation. This year, the NFL Foundation provided a $1 million grant to the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee via “Touchdown Houston” in an effort to leave an impact on all 11 counties of Houston by concentrating on education, health and community enhancement. Grant focuses include youth physical fitness and wellness, after school programs, health care and food access, neighborhood improvement, early childhood education, anti-poverty, dropout and homeless prevention strategies.

On Thursday, Feb. 2 at 10 a.m., NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL and Houston Super Bowl Host Committee executives amongst others will take part in the Super Bowl Legacy Grant press conference at Pro-Vision Academy (4590 Wilmington St.). NFL Legend and Pro-Vision Academy founder ROYNELL YOUNG will lead attendees through a ground breaking ceremony to celebrate a football field refurbishment granted to the school. Following the press conference, students will participate in a player panel on character education with current and former NFL players and led by former NFL player and author of InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives JOE EHRMANN. Ehrmann is the co-founder of the InSideOut Initiative, designed to help high school communities recognize the responsibility they have to their students and enhance the human growth and development of the student-athletes who play.

MAKE-A-WISH®

Through the assistance of the NFL, Make-A-Wish will grant the wishes of 12 children to attend Super Bowl LI. Attending the Super Bowl continues to be a wish that transcends generations: every year since 1982, one or more wish kids has wished to attend the big game.

This year, the children and their families will arrive in Houston on Thursday, Feb. 2 for a welcome reception. Wish children and their families will participate in several other activities related to the Super Bowl and will attend the game at NRG Stadium through the support of the NFL and other organizations.

Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true can have positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illnesses, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Based in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 33,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 34 minutes. It has granted more than 285,000 wishes since its inception in 1980; more than 15,300 in 2016 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org to learn more.

NFL WOMEN’S SUMMIT— “PLAYS FOR LIFE”

On Feb. 3 (9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.) and 4 (9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.), the NFL will host this year’s Women’s Summit—Plays for Life. Building on the success of last year’s Women’s Summit—which explored the role of sports participation in developing leadership, teamwork, and other skills that promote success throughout one’s life and career, Plays for Life expands upon that conversation by engaging teen girls through an interactive and experiential event focused on personal development and achievement.

During the two-day event, 250 Houston-area teen girls will hear from prominent leaders from across the NFL and beyond about their own personal journeys and participate in a discussion about how to achieve their goals, prepare for life’s challenges, and best utilize the tools that are critical for personal and professional development.

A live stream of the event will be hosted by women’s leadership platform www.MAKERS.com.   

More than three dozen speakers and participants will be announced in the coming days. The event will take place at the Citadel (12130 Kirby Dr).

The event is limited to invited guests. For more information, visit www.NFLWomensSummit.com and follow #NFLWomensSummit on social media.

NFL FOUNDATION GOLF TOURNAMENT: “Legends on the Links”

In celebration of its 26th year, the NFL Foundation is partnering with the NFL Legends community to host an 18-hole golf tournament on Friday, Feb. 3 starting at 8:00 a.m. at Golf Club of Houston (5860 Wilson Rd., Humble), home course to the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open. 

Teams of amateur golfers will be captained by NFL Legends in 18-hole team scramble events to be played on both the Tournament Course, which hosts the PGA Tour event annually, and the Member Course, where the PGA Tour played from 2003 through 2005.  The celebrity captains entered thus far are LARRY BROWN, DONNIE EDWARDS, AHMAN GREEN, RODNEY HAMPTON, DHANI JONES, KWAMIE LASSITER, RYAN LEAF, EJ MANUEL, CURTIS MCGRIFF, MARTY MOORE, JONATHAN OGDEN, CHAD PENNINGTON, MIKE QUICK, JOHN RANDLE, MIKE RUCKER, WILL SHIELDS, AL SMITH, MACK STRONG, BEN TATE, JOHN URSHEL and LEONARD WHEELER. Additionally, NFL Legends’ Community Directors and Coordinators that serve as ambassadors across the country will be in attendance and facilitating the tournament.

Hospitality golf packages are open to the general public (deadline Jan. 28), with a tournament entry donation of $6,000 per team (teams of three paired with a NFL Legend) or $2,500 per individual benefiting the NFL Foundation and NFL Player Care Foundation.  To register for the tournament, contact Laura Malfy at [email protected].

ROSS INITIATIVE IN SPORTS FOR EQUALITY (RISE) SUPER BOWL TOWN HALL

The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and NFL will host their second-annual Super Bowl Town Hall, “From Protest to Progress: The Power of Sports to Improve Race Relations,” from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3. The town hall, hosted by Texas Southern University in Houston and supported by The Players’ Tribune, will be broadcast live on Sirius XM radio. Current and former NFL greats, including policy advocates ANQUAN BOLDIN of the Detroit Lions and MALCOLM JENKINS of the Philadelphia Eagles and Hall of Famer AENEAS WILLIAMS, will participate in a two-part panel discussion, reviewing lessons learned from the activist athlete and examining solution-oriented next steps for the sports industry to drive social change. RISE will release a report looking at the reach and impact of, reaction to and outcomes of activist athletes in the second half of 2016. RISE aims to use sports to improve race relations. To learn more, visit www.risetowin.org.

NFL & ALL PRO DAD FAMILY FOOTBALL CLINIC

Current and former players celebrate football and family at the second annual NFL & All Pro Dad Family Football Clinic at Super Bowl LI. Presented by NFL Player Engagement and All Pro Dad organization, players are invited to bring their children and significant others to participate in fun football activities on Friday, Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. at the NFL Experience Youth Field in the George R. Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida De Las Americas). Players and their children will learn how fun it is to PLAY 60 and create new football memories as a family. Within each football activity, kids and their parents will participate in an exercise designed to foster engagement and relationship building among family members. The clinic will begin at 9:30 a.m. with player media availability at 11:30 a.m.

22nd ANNUAL REBUILDING TOGETHER “KICKOFF TO REBUILD”

On Friday, Feb. 3 from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., in conjunction with Super Bowl LI, Rebuilding Together Houston will host a community revitalization project to rehabilitate the main section of the historic Independence Heights neighborhood as a Legacy of Super Bowl LI in Houston. Independence Heights is the first self-governing, African American city incorporated in the state of Texas. It is important to revive the neighborhood and keep its history alive, allowing longtime residents to age in place. The creation of a welcome center will allow visitors the opportunity to learn about the neighborhood’s history, beginning in 1905, through its eventual integration into the city of Houston, and its vital role in Houston’s community today.

For the past 22 years, Rebuilding Together has partnered with the NFL to host projects in Super Bowl cities. These NFL-sanctioned events provide critical home repairs for low-income homeowners and their communities. The event will include help for individual homeowners in need and create a safer, healthier and beautifully rebuilt section of Independence Heights.

To learn more about Rebuilding Together’s Kickoff to Rebuild project, visit rebuildingtogether.org/ktr/.

CHARACTER PLAYBOOK HOUSTON LAUNCH

“Character Playbook,” a joint initiative of the NFL and United Way Worldwide and operated by EverFi, an education technology leader in more than 13,000 schools across the nation, will launch in Houston on Friday, Feb. 3 at 1:00 p.m. at Pilgrim Academy (6302 Skyline Dr.). The digital course is comprised of six interactive modules that support positive character development, social-emotional learning and healthy relationships for grades 7-9. Houston Texans players will sit on a panel and discuss character development and decision-making with students.  Students will then go through the modules, designed to help students develop healthy relationships and social norms. Character Playbook will be provided to 40 schools in the Houston area via a joint partnership between the Houston Texans, United Way of Greater Houston and Verizon.  

SUPER BOWL GOSPEL CELEBRATION

The 18th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration will take place on Friday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Lakewood Church (3700 Southwest Freeway). The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration brings together Super Bowl champions and Pro Bowl players with Grammy Award-winning contemporary Christian, gospel and mainstream artists all on one stage.  The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration also gives back to the community. Each year, the event identifies a charity to donate a portion of its proceeds. For the second consecutive year, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the NFL Players Care Foundation.

For more information, visit www.superbowlgospel.com

1st AND FUTURE

The NFL, in collaboration with the Texas Medical Center (TMC) is calling on innovators to share their solutions to help advance the game of football and athlete safety. On Saturday, Feb. 4, the partners will host 1st and Future, a unique startup competition that will take place at the TMC Innovation Institute (2450 Holcombe Blvd.). Up to nine startups will be invited to present their game-changing technologies in each of the following three categories: Communicating with the Athlete, Training the Athlete and Materials to Protect the Athlete. The startups will pitch their products to an exclusive audience, including a panel of judges, NFL team owners and executives and representatives from the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee and TMC. One winner from each category will be selected by a panel of judges comprising of former NFL players, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. The winners will receive a $50,000 prize from the NFL to further develop their innovation; acceptance into TMCx, TMC’s world-renowned program for start-ups; and two tickets to Super Bowl LI.

For information on the submission process, selection criteria and official rules, visit www.tmc.edu/1st-and-future/. The deadline to submit applications is January 20, 2017.  

SUPER BOWL BREAKFAST

The 2017 Super Bowl Breakfast will be held Saturday, Feb. 4 at 8 a.m. at the Marriott Marquis Houston (1777 Walker St.).  The breakfast will feature the presentation of the Bart Starr Award, presented by Super Bowl Champion Coach, TONY DUNGY.  The award, voted on by NFL players, honors outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.

In addition to Tony Dungy and the 2017 Award winner, the program will include former NFL players ROGER STAUBACHBRUCE MATTHEWS, ANTHONY MUNOZ, DERRICK BROOKS and emcee JAMES BROWN, host of The NFL Today and Thursday Night Football.   

HOUSTON CAREERS IN SPORTS FORUM

The NFL will celebrate high school coaches and educate students on various career opportunities in the sports industry on Saturday, Feb. 3 from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Cemo Hall at the University of Houston. Parents will hear from NFL players and professionals in the sports industry about the vast career possibilities off the field. Guests will enjoy music from a professional DJ and food and beverages and interact with sports experts and NFL players. The event is open to Houston high school students interested in sports, but space is limited.

NFLPA SMOCKS & JOCKS

On Saturday, Feb. 4 from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Caracol (2200 Post Oak Blvd.), the NFL Players Association will hold its annual art auction and jazz brunch called Smocks & Jocks supporting the Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund and a local foundation. Artwork from active and former players and others connected to professional football will be auctioned as part of the charity event. This event is invite-only.

TROUPE21’S 17TH ANNUAL PLAYER NETWORKING EVENT

Troupe21’s 17th Annual Player Networking Event™ (PNE) at the Super Bowl will take place Saturday, Feb. 4 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at Houston Community College—West Loop Center (5601 West Loop S). PNE, an NFL sanctioned event for 15 years, helps active and former NFL players transition into meaningful second careers.

The networking event will include a private banking workshop; focus groups for players, corporate guests and vendors; an Internet radio broadcast featuring player-owned businesses and sponsors; a social media challenge designed to promote athlete and corporate responsibility; a scholarship drive for high school football student-athletes to attend the Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy; and a trade show featuring corporations interested in helping players pursue charitable, employment, and entrepreneurial goals.

TASTE OF THE NFL

Taste of the NFL (TNFL) is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to raising awareness and funds for hunger relief organizations in the 32 NFL cities and across the country. Proudly celebrating its 26th year at Super Bowl LI, the organization conducts national and local fundraising events throughout the year, culminating in the annual Party with a Purpose® on Super Bowl Eve. Since its inception, Taste of the NFL has raised more than $25 million, which has provided more than 275 million meals for Americans. All proceeds raised are donated directly to local and national food banks in each of the 32 NFL cities.

This season’s Party with a Purpose® will be held at the University of Houston (4800 Calhoun Rd.) on Saturday, Feb. 4 from 7-11 p.m. This star-studded fundraising event celebrates two of America’s favorite pastimes—food and football—by bringing together exceptional cuisine, prominent chefs from around the country, celebrities, NFL players, coaches, legends, and more, all to support the fight against hunger. ALEX GUARNASCHELLI and RICHARD BLAIS are the Culinary Hosts for this year’s Party with a Purpose®.

Follow @TasteoftheNFL on Instagram and Twitter as they #KickHunger this season, or visit Taste of the NFL on Facebook at facebook.com/TasteoftheNFL.

Tickets to this event can be purchased at www.TasteoftheNFL.com.  Media wishing to cover the event should apply for credentials here.

SUPER BOWL ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM

The NFL and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee have teamed up to develop a series of initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl Verizon is a key partner in several of these projects including the Super Kids – Super Sharing, the Super Bowl LI Urban Forestry Project and a public E-Waste Recycling Rally.

The Super Kids – Super Sharing Sports Equipment and Book Donation Event was held at Thursday, Jan. 19.  Tens of thousands of books, school supplies, games and pieces of sports equipment were collected and distributed to low-income schools and youth programs throughout the region.  As part of Super Kids, local students have also donated used cell phones through HopeLine® from Verizon. HopeLine® collects wireless phones and accessories no longer in use and turns them into financial support for domestic violence organizations nationwide.

The Super Bowl LI E-Waste Recycling Rally will be held Saturday, Jan. 21 from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. at the Houston Zoo, Medical Center Entrance (1481 Cambridge Street). This recycling rally, sponsored by Verizon, will be open to the public and local residents may drop off all types of electronic waste to be recycled responsibly and kept out of local landfills. Items such as computers, printers, monitors, cell phones and televisions will be accepted.

Other environmental projects include:

GREEN ENERGY

“Green” energy will be used to power major Super Bowl event venues throughout Houston including NRG Stadium, the George R. Brown Convention Center (site of the Super Bowl Media Center and NFL Experience), and the hotels being used by the NFL and AFC teams and by the NFL Super Bowl staff. NRG will be providing renewable energy certificates (RECs) equivalent to the electricity usage at these facilities to mitigate the climate impact of energy emissions.

FOOD RECOVERY

Extra prepared food from Super Bowl events will be recovered in partnership with the Houston Food Bank and a number of local nonprofit organizations to provide meals for shelters, missions, soup kitchens and other community programs.

MATERIAL RECOVERY

Recovery of all event materials will begin immediately after most Super Bowl events. During the week following the game, there will be an intensive drive to collect and donate items left over from Super Bowl including building materials, décor, fabric, carpeting and sign materials. These items will be donated to local organizations that can reuse, repurpose or remanufacture the material. The NFL has incorporated environmental projects into the management of Super Bowl for more than 20 years.

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