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The Texans have to win now for future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt.

This is the most important season in the history of the Houston Texans’ franchise for one simple reason; defensive end J.J. Watt.

Super Bowls are predicated on having your quarterback play at a very high level and putting ample pressure on the other team’s signal-caller.

Arguably as rare as a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback is a first ballot Hall of Fame pass rusher like Watt.

Much like a running back that seemingly sees their production wither and fade after the age of 30, the most prolific pass rushers have struggled at a similar point.

The NFL’s all-time sack leader, Michael Strahan had 18.5 sacks at the age of 30 but never had more than 12 again throughout the remainder of his career.

Jared Allen sacked opposing quarterbacks 22 times at age 29 but like Strahan never broke 12 in a single season for the remainder of his career.

DeMarcus Ware managed 15.5 sacks at the age of 28 and then 19.5 the following year. Father time caught up with Ware just as it had to Strahan and Allen. Preventing Ware from reaching 12 sacks in a season after his 30th birthday.

There are exceptions to every rule as is the case with elite pass rushers.

Reggie White is the anomaly as he stayed productive in the opponent’s backfield long past the age of 30.

In fact, at the age of 37 White sacked opposing quarterbacks 16 times.

The NFL is different than it was in White’s day. Watt is unlikely to play into his late thirties like the “Minister of Defense” did, making Ware, Allen, and Strahan the most logical comparisons.

If Watt proves to be human as most who have come before have and his production decreases around the age of 30, the Texans have at most 2-3 good seasons with him on their roster. This inherently brings about a sense of urgency to make the most of his talents this year. This puts additional pressure on an offense that in recent years has struggled to carry its weight compared to the defense.

Much has been made about the inept quarterback play the Texans have received in their relatively brief history.

Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson may be the future of the franchise and can very well change that history, but it is clear for now that quarterback Tom Savage is the starter.

Realizing that the ceiling for Savage is not necessarily high enough to win a Super Bowl on his arm alone, the Texans should run the ball more than they throw it. Especially considering the fact that they should have one of the best backfields in the NFL with running backs Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman.

This would take the pressure off of Savage and keep Watt and the rest of the defense fresh to close out games in the fourth quarter.

For whatever reason, Houston has a long history of squandering the formidable years of some of their most prominent athletes to ever call the city home.

In baseball, the Astros never reached the World Series with Nolan Ryan, flaming out one step away against the Philadelphia Phillies and again against the New York Mets. They were swept in the 2005 World Series with Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.

The Astros would never reach the fall classic during the remainder of Biggio and Bagwell’s careers after losing to the Chicago White Sox in four games.

Staying with football, the beloved Houston Oilers did next to nothing during the record-tying 14-time pro bowl career of offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.

Running back Earl Campbell was selected to the Pro Bowl in five of his six years in Houston, yet never made it to a Super Bowl.

The Texans are not free and clear of wasting the Hall of Fame career of a player.

Former wide receiver Andre Johnson, who without question will someday make it to Canton, managed just four playoff games in his 12-year career in Houston.

It remains to be seen if the Texans will make the most of having one of the best, if not the best, pass rushers in NFL history or not.

Players like Watt come along once in a franchise’s history if that team is lucky. The Texans’ window is closing quickly on the face of the franchise being at the top of his game.

Here is to hoping they make the most of what time they have left with J.J. Watt.

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The Cowboys rookies will get a head start on training camp, reporting three days early. The rookies will work at The Star, the team’s training facility in Frisco, for the three days before the entire team flies to Oxnard, Calif., on July 22.

The Cowboys’ first practice in California is July 24.

While having rookies report early is common for many teams, it is an unusual move for the Cowboys. But the Cowboys will be relying on a number of rookies, including receiver Ryan Switzer, defensive end Taco Charlton and defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.

“It really will be the same roster as a rookie camp,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, via the team website. “What you’re allowed to do is bring true rookies in, then players with no accrued seasons, so all the guys that fit those categories will be here. You’re also allowed to bring some injured guys, so we’ll selectively choose those guys if we feel like they need some time.”

The Cowboys completed their three-day minicamp last week, setting the veterans free until training camp. The rookies are scheduled to lift and run with conditioning coaches this week.

“This time off, these next five weeks are critical for everybody,” Garrett said. “The guys will get away from it a little bit, then they’re going to get back to work so they’re ready to go come training camp. Excited about the opportunities in front of us.”

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Anthony Rizzo had his cake Friday.

He ate it — and wore it — too, after the Cubs pestered the Cardinals just enough for a 3-2 victory at Wrigley Field to end the team’s season-high losing streak at six.

The first baseman, whose marriage proposal to girlfriend Emily Vakos was accepted Thursday night, helped the Cubs to victory Friday with heady baserunning and a bit of fortune.

He stuck his face into the engagement cake the team brought for him in a celebration afterward.

“It tasted better after a victory,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo was gifted a double to lead off the eighth inning when Cardinals left fielder Magneuris Sierra’s lost the ball in the bright sky. It was the first of two sun-aided extra-base hits to affect the outcome.

Rizzo alertly slid into third base on Ben Zobrist’s groundout to third to put himself — and the Cubs — within 90 feet of the lead. He jogged home with ease on Jason Heyward’s sacrifice fly to deep center field to help ensure a strong outing from John Lackey wasn’t wasted in the loss column.

“We needed a win,” said Rizzo, who walked his first three times up. “It doesn’t matter if it’s versus the Cardinals or a college team.”

The Cubs haven’t lost seven in a row since Sept. 5-12, 2014.

And Lackey, Heyward, Rizzo and Kris Bryant weren’t about to join that club, even if the Cubs had just five hits.

Cardinals right fielder Stephen Piscotty lost his battle with the sun on Heyward’s game-tying double that scored Rizzo in the sixth. Kris Bryant hit a home run in the third for the Cubs’ first run.

“We did just enough,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We haven’t been playing badly. We just have not been hitting.

“You can’t say we killed it today offensively. We pitched well enough. You have to pitch better than good pitching to win some days, and we did that.”

After former Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler smacked Lackey’s 3-2 pitch for his 23rd career leadoff home run in the first, and Sierra singled home Aledmys Diaz in the second, Lackey didn’t allow another hit in five innings.

He gave up four and two walks in his season-high-tying seven innings, and struck out six in his 25th consecutive start of at least five innings.

“This is going to sound weird, but I started throwing fewer strikes,” Lackey said.

When told 62 of his 99 pitches were, in fact, strikes, Lackey grinned.

“They swung a lot,” he said. “Sometimes you can throw too many strikes. There can be too many things that are hittable. I have a reputation as a strike-thrower so I get a lot of early swings. Sometimes throwing something out of the zone is not a bad thing.”

The Cubs needed his performance. They have scored just 12 runs in their last seven games, including Friday’s.

They entered the game last in the National League with a .209 average with runners in scoring position, a number that increased ever so slightly after the Cubs went 1-for-4 in such scenarios Friday.

“The Bryant home run did perk everybody up,” Maddon said. “There’s no question, we need to get more consistent, well-struck balls.”

There was no question Fowler struck his well, one of Lackey’s few mistakes.

Only after some hesitation did the fan who retrieved the souvenir follow stadium protocol and throw it back onto the field.

Pedro Strop saved the day in the eighth when he struck out Yadier Molina to end the inning with the bases loaded.

Wade Davis saved the game when he retired the Cardinals in order in the ninth for his 11th save.

Then it was on to cake for the Cubs.

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There are many ways to study the Warriors’ long history. Scan the Internet, maybe pick up a few reference books, and you’re there cheap jerseys China.

There’s a simpler way, as well: Go straight to Al Attles.

Attles and fellow coaching legend Hubie Brown were honored at the NBA Finals Sunday with the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement award, presented annually by the National Basketball Coaches Association for “special contribution” over the years, joining a prestigious list of honorees including Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens, Tommy Heinsohn, Jack Ramsay, Dick Motta, K.C. Jones and Tex Winter.

Attles is also a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, elected in 2014 by winning the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement award.

There isn’t much about the Warriors that Attles, 80, doesn’t recognize from personal experience. He broke in as a rookie with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1960, playing alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Tom Gola and Paul Arizin, among others. Attles was an obscure, fifth-round draft pick out of North Carolina AT&T and figured he had no chance to make the team, but he wound up playing 11 years as one of the toughest, most defensive-minded guards in the league. (The Warriors moved to San Francisco for the 1962-63 season.)

Over 57 consecutive years with the organization — think about that for a moment — Attles has done it all, serving as the team’s general manager and later a multilayered administrator. He even held an ownership stake at one time.

He is most remembered, though, for his coaching. Over 13 years, he led the Warriors into six postseasons and notched a then-franchise record 59 wins in 1975-76. Attles started out as a player-coach, replacing George Lee, with 30 games left in the 1969-70 season, and when he was promoted to full-time duty in 1971-72, he became the first African American man to hold that distinction in any of the major sports.

Moreover, when the Warriors reached the 1975 Finals against Jones’ Washington Bullets, it was the first time two African American coaches had faced each other – another American pro-sports landmark.

Attles and Brown, 83, have a championship connection. Just as Attles’ Warriors won the 1975 title in a four-game sweep – “the biggest upset in the history of the three major sports, in my opinion,” said team mainstay Rick Barry – Brown coached the Kentucky Colonels to the ABA title that season, winning the finals in five games over the Indiana Pacers. Brown went on to coach the Hawks, Knicks and Grizzlies over a 13-year NBA coaching career.

As Brown greeted Attles before the press conference, he told him, “Two Jersey guys. We made it out of the neighborhood.” And Brown had a story to tell.

“I grew up in Elizabeth, he was from Newark, we go back a long way,” Brown said. “So I’m a high-school coach sitting on my couch, and you remember when ABC had the ‘Wide World of Sports,’ and there’s Howard Cosell interviewing Wilt Chamberlain. Said ‘Wilt, is it true that you are challenging Muhammad Ali to a heavyweight championship fight? How could you do this?’ And Wilt — this is great — puts his hand up and said, ‘Howard, there’s only one guy that I would never fight. And that’s ‘The Destroyer,’ Al Attles.’”

As old Warriors teammate Tom Meschery recalled, “He really earned that nickname. Al was the single toughest fighter I ever saw in the league. But I think he deserves plenty of credit as a player. He was a guy with great lateral movement and fabulous speed. He could beat everybody in a footrace, even Wilt. He would have made every all-defensive team if they’d had ‘em back then, and he’d guard anyone: Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy. Most of the publicity went to K.C. Jones as a backcourt defender, because he was on more of a sexy team (the Celtics), so people tended to overlook Al. Not the players, though.”