Off the Cuff

Texans' Owner McNair Has Game Plan


Robert McNair is a self-made billionaire. But he doesn't take his wealth for granted. In fact, you can say he lives by the motto, "there's no 'I' in "TEAM" — both on and off the field.

McNair is the founder, chairman and CEO of the Houston Texans. The National Football League awarded its 32nd franchise to McNair and the city of Houston (after the Oilers packed up, moved to Tennessee and became the Titans). The Texans made their debut in 2002. McNair created the nation's largest privately held power company, Cogen Technologies, and sold it to Enron for $1.5 billion in 1999. He declined an offer to become Enron CEO (two years later the company went bankrupt).

When it comes to football, McNair takes an active role with the team, often checking on the players before each game. He enjoys the camaraderie that comes from "everyone working for the same goal: in the trenches, dodging the bullets, taking the criticism, enjoying the wins and suffering through the losses together."

Besides football, Bob McNair in involved with many other businesses like his biotech investment firm Cogene Biotech Ventures, the financial and real estate firm The McNair Group, as well as Palmetto Partners, the private investment company that manages the McNair's public and private equity investments. He and his wife Janice are dedicated to philanthropic causes like the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, whose mission is to help find cures for breast and pancreatic cancer, diabetes and neurological problems.

So where does McNair's drive comes from? He cites an old saying, "On the desert of despair lies the bones of those who, on the verge of victory, sat down to rest then died." However, this drive is not what gets McNair up in the morning; his dog does (at 5:00 a.m.).

Other interests are golf and wine — both French and California varieties. McNair says he drinks "more of it than I should, but I live to enjoy it the next day." When asked about the greatest piece of advice he'd ever gotten, he smiles. "My dad told me you can't go wrong by doing what's right and I have lived by that. I think it's very good advice for anyone."

And bringing everything full circle back to his embrace of "team," McNair channels his inner "Hannibal" Smith —played by the late George Peppard - from the 1980s action series, "The A-Team". He loves it when a plan comes together. "I get satisfaction out of seeing a plan well executed and the success that comes from that good execution."

This is McNair's playbook both on and off the field.