Published on: Sun, Sep 30, 2018
The speaker was just beginning his presentation when he did it.
“Does anyone in here know what this is?” he asked the 50-some-odd Texas Travel Summit attendees in the breakout session. He held up his right hand, fingers positioned in what sure looked to me like an eagle claw.
Beaming, he clicked to advance the PowerPoint to his first slide. A still image of the now-famous trick play at which the world has marveled since September 15 when the Mean Green pretty much annihilated the Arkansas Razorbacks filled the screen.
“I’m a proud North Texas alum and Mean Green football is 4 and 0,” he bellowed at his bio’s conclusion. Cheers erupted from other alums in the room, myself included. This must be how it feels to an Aggie when the collective “Whoop!” goes up whenever Texas A&M is mentioned. This guy was excited, touting my school to all these people, bragging on Denton’s evolution since his 70s-era college days!
I lost count of the “How ‘bout that Mean Green football team!” high-fives I got during the Texas Travel Summit convention this past week. I am proud of my alma mater, but this football-glory recognition and alumni pride outside of Denton is an all-new experience. Mean Green Football is stirring hearts and shining a light on Denton brighter than we’ve seen since the days of Mean Joe Greene.
Greene was honored yesterday when UNT unveiled a bronze statue at Apogee Stadium of the defensive tackle, the only Mean Green player in history to be named a Consensus All-American. Following his years at UNT, Greene’s fame continued when he went pro as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers team that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. It was a celebration that, coupled with the Mean Green’s reputation at the top of college football’s current conversation, drew fans and alumni from UNT and rival Louisiana Tech (LA Tech) to Denton for the game. Both boast large DFW alumni bases.
There is more to Denton’s newfound football fame than just fun. It’s also a major boost to a Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) standing initiative that encourages college alums to rediscover Denton. We launched the Mean Green Game Day experience in 2014 as part of this effort. When they come back, alumni bring family and friends. This is tourism. While they spend and positively impact our local economy, these visitors leave here ambassadors. Our Mean Green Game Day mission is to help ensure fabulous, welcoming #dentoning experiences so their stories inspire others to visit.
The Mean Green Game Day free shuttles have ferried thousands of fans between downtown Denton and Apogee Stadium. When we started the initiative in partnership with UNT Athletics and DCTA five years ago, fan momentum was nowhere near what we are seeing this season. We experienced a few rapid-growth trials kicking off this season when UNT faced SMU (another large DFW fan base), and fans have been gracious and helpful. We all realize this is a wonderful challenge to tackle.
Thanks to your feedback, tackling it we are. UNT Transportation Services and DCTA added to the number of shuttles and rolled out new routes for yesterday’s game to increase their frequency at stops and minimize time in traffic congestion.
UNT is at Apogee Stadium again October 13 when they’ll take on Southern Miss. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. The Jagoe-Public-sponsored Mean Green Game Day shuttles will begin running continuously at 10 a.m. till one hour after the game ends. Visit meangreengameday.com for shuttle routes and pick-up and drop-off locations. Most importantly, though, catch Mean Green Mania and get out to the game!
Football weather is finally catching up with the season, and that bodes well for some other things not to miss between now and that next home game.
The fall Twilight Tunes series opens this Thursday on the courthouse lawn with local band Platos Theory headlining. The series runs on Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. through October and will feature Super Kings, The Dunashay Experience and The Allmost Brothers respectively. See dentonmainstreet.org for details.
Next Saturday, October 6, is the annual festival most near and dear to man’s best friend. Dog Days of Denton was Texas’ first-ever event for and about dogs when it began 25 years ago, and today pups are bringing their people from far beyond Denton. Dog Days is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North Texas Fairgrounds and admission is free. With arts, crafts, demonstrations, canine talent contests and lots of entertainment, Dog Days guarantees fun for the entire family, especially Fido. dogdaysdenton.com has the day’s schedule and the important canine tips for having the best time, people and pooches alike.
We are a fortunate place. We never lack for things to do or ways to enjoy our Denton life.
People are talking about us, Denton. If you don’t know why, get out of the house. It’s time to find out.
See more photos from Saturday’s statue unveiling: