Bob McNair, the owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans, died Friday in Houston, according to the team’s official Twitter account. He was 81.
He’s the third NFL owner to die this year. Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen died in October and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson died in March.
McNair served as senior chairman and CEO of the team and was known as the man who brought the NFL back to Houston, according to the Texans’ website.
After the Houston Oilers left the city for Tennessee following the 1996 season, Houston was without an NFL team. He persuaded the NFL to grant a franchise to Houston and the Texans played their first game in 2002. Since then, the city has hosted two Super Bowls, in 2004 and 2017.
According to the team website, McNair founded Cogen Technologies, a privately-owned energy company, and served as senior chairman of McNair Interests, Palmetto Partners Ltd. and RCM Financial Services.
“After The Houston Oilers left Houston for Tennessee, Bob and his family brought NFL football back to Houston, where it certainly belongs,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “Bob was also instrumental in the construction of NRG Stadium and was the force that brought the 2017 Super Bowl to our city. Fittingly, the premier sports arena was the site of one of the best Super Bowls ever.”
J.J. Watt, a defensive end for the Texans, tweeted: “Rest In Peace Mr. McNair. Thank you for giving myself and so many others an opportunity here in Houston. My thoughts are with Janice, Cal and the entire McNair family.”
Former President George H.W. Bush issued a statement in a tweet from his spokesman calling McNair “one of the kindest and most generous people anywhere.”
McNair was born in Tampa, Florida, graduated from the University of South Carolina and moved to Houston with his wife, Janice, in 1960, the team’s website said.