The man who brought NFL football back to Houston in 2002 has died a little more than a month before his 81st birthday.
The Houston Texans released a statement reading,” "It is with deep sadness that we announce Houston Texans Founder, Senior Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and philanthropist, Robert C. McNair passed away peacefully in Houston today with his loving wife, Janice, and his family by his side.”
There was no word on a cause of death, but McNair revealed in 2014 that he had been battling skin cancer for nearly 20 years. He battled both leukemia and squamous cell carcinoma in recent years.
McNair was not only the driving force to get a team in Houston after the Oilers left in 1996, but he also brought two Super Bowls to NRG Stadium in 2004 and 2017.
Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien said, “He was a very caring, thoughtful and passionate individual… As much as he cared about winning, I think the thing I will remember most about Mr. McNair is the way he cared about the players."
McNair’s son Cal, who has been serving as the team’s chairman and chief operating officer, will take over his father’s duties.
The longtime Houstonian moved to town with his wife Janice in 1960. He made his fortune in the oil and gas industry as co-founder of Cogen Technologies, which became the largest privately owned cogeneration company in the world. He sold it off to Enron in 1999.
He was also a well-known philanthropist, contributing more than 500-million dollars to various causes personally or through foundations he created.
Reaction has been pouring in. Former President George H.W. Bush released a statement reading:
“Bob McNair wasn’t just the brightest Point of Light in Houston; he was one of the kindest and most generous people anywhere. Nobody cared — or helped people — more, and that’s just one of the reasons I will always be proud Bob was my good friend. He was simply The Best. My most sincere condolences and family love go to Janice and her wonderful family.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a statement that echoed many of those points, reading in part:
“… Football was not the only good thing Bob McNair gave to Houston. He and his family were very generous to many community and local philanthropic causes. He was a bold and visionary Houstonian who will long be remembered here.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, “We have lost a great Texan, sportsman and a wonderful person."
The Houston Texans are scheduled to face the former Oilers – now the Tennessee Titans – on Monday Night Football.