Family Weekend


When the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans meet Sunday night at Houston's Reliant Stadium, the game will be a homecoming of sorts for many on the visiting sideline.

In particular, each of the Packers' top three wide receivers, Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson, and Javon Walker, have strong ties to Houston and are expecting to have large cheering sections even if the game is in enemy territory.

Tickets have been at a premium in the Green Bay locker room this week, as all three pass-catchers who were born and raised in and around the Houston area have been trying to secure as many passes as possible for friends and family members.

"The phone's been ringing off the hook," Ferguson said. "I'm scrambling for tickets right now, I think I need like 45, but it looks like I'll get about 20."

Walker doesn't think he's going to be able to accommodate all of his ticket requests.

"I've got people coming to the game just to tailgate - they can't even get into the game," said the star wideout.

Driver, who like Ferguson, lives in Houston in the offseason is looking forward to spending some time with his family, including his beloved grandmother whom he talks to on the phone nearly every day.

Driver said that Sunday will be the first time that she has gotten to see him play an NFL game in person and that he is hoping to get into the end zone so he can give her a touchdown ball.

"I'm just happy that I'm going home to play in front of my family," he said. "I think that's one thing that they've always wanted."

Ferguson says he's looking forward to playing in his hometown, but doesn't feel any added pressure to perform.

"It's special going home and playing in front of the home crowd," said the former Texas A&M Aggie. "It's something you always look forward to doing, so it's special.

"It's no pressure; I've been performing in Houston for many years. I think it's just special for them to come out and watch their family member play in an NFL game."

Another Packers player is looking forward to playing in front of a large contingent of family members, but not because he hails from Houston.

Playmaking safety Darren Sharper will be facing his brother Jamie, a linebacker for the Texans for the third time in their NFL careers. Darren said that he expects a crowd of about 50 on hand to see the sibling rivalry play out on the gridiron.

Darren, whose Packers beat his older brother's teams in both of their previous meetings (1998 and 2001 when Jamie was with the Baltimore Ravens), is looking to go up 3-0 after this, their first on-field meeting away from Lambeau Field. However, he feels he's going to be going into the game a little shorthanded in the color war in the stands.

"Most of them had on his jersey when they came in here and I was a little bit upset about that because we were at our home field," said Sharper. "I'm going to see now if we'll have more of our jerseys at their field, but he just told me the other day that he has 30 jerseys that he's going to give out to family members. We have 50 coming, so automatically he's going to have more. We may be few and far between in the family as far as Packer jerseys go, but that's alright, we'll have a lot of Packer fans there."

Darren stated that while he feels he is the best athlete in the family, Jamie may have the edge on the football field, if only because of some jewelry though.

"I think I'm a better athlete than he is, but I think that he's a better football player," the Packer defender said. "From college to now, playing linebacker, he's just a natural football player. I always tell people that I'm a better athlete, but I'm pretty much catching him in the football category, too. He still has a Super Bowl ring that he can hold over my head and I have a couple of Pro Bowls on him. He's trying to catch me in Pro Bowls and I'm trying to catch him in Super Bowls."

While many on the Packers roster are looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in Texas over the weekend, no one is looking past the real reason for the trip, as evidenced by Ferguson's response when asked if he would be distracted by catching up with family.

"It's definitely a business trip. You'll have time for that during the offseason."

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