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NFL & United Way Blog

United Way Character Playbook Event with the Houston Texans

“Leadership is about inspiring other people to become the best version of themselves”  

That was one of the main takeaways from Houston Texans’ safety Justin Reid. He was joined by fellow Texans safety Michael Thomas on Tuesday morning to take part in the Houston Texans’ Character Playbook Event. 

The duo spent an hour influencing the Greater Houston middle school students to make the right decisions and become strong leaders. Michael Thomas grew up in the Greater Houston school district and sighted middle school as a turning point for his life. Thomas made the decision to consciously be respectful to his teachers, faculty, fellow classmates, and anyone else in his path. That led him to have the references to eventually attain a scholarship to Stanford University 

To build on his own middle school development, Thomas also made a choice to start competing in the classroom. “I would challenge my friends to get a better grade than me in class, and we all got better grades because of it.” He became a better student and an even better influence on his friend group. Thomas went on to say “Compete with your friends in class just like you would playing video games or sports.”  

Justin Reid was just as inspired when it came to leadership. Reid encouraged the students to be the person in the friend group to take action. If he saw something going on in his friend group he did not like, he was going to say something. Thomas added that you can be the one to stop your friends from doing harm, without outing yourself. If a friend makes a hurtful comment to another student, be the one to tell them that it is not okay to bully. According to Reid the key is “being understanding, not forceful.” If a teammate is creating conflict, Justin Reid does not yell or put them in their place. He finds the root of the issue and tries to help. If the issue is regarding a player having a problem with the coach, he would help them talk out the issue. He wanted to find a resolution, not shut up the troublemaker in the locker room to cause temporary piece for the rest of the team. He wanted to find a solution to improve everyone’s experience.  

Michael Thomas also had some advice on the matter. When asked what attributes he had developed over quarantine, Thomas said “managing conflict”. He went on to say “being able to control your emotions rather than escalate the situation is important. It’s as simple as saying I understand, we can talk about it.”  

Reid and Thomas have reached the same destination as safeties for the Houston Texans but had completely different paths. Reid was drafted out of Stanford with the fourth pick of the third round and was thrusted into a starting role as a rookie. He had to become a leader in the secondary right away. 

Thomas also attended Stanford but went undrafted in 2012. He had to outwork his competition to stay in the league. He was signed by the San Francisco 49ers and eventually found a home in Miami. After two years as a Giant, Thomas is now back home as a member of the Houston Texans. 

Tuesday’s event was held by the Houston Texans and United Way of Greater Houston. 

You can learn more about Character Playbook here!