HOUSTON - Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Andre Ware recalled the impact Texas football legend Jack Pardee had on his life.

He was a father figure, and I don t use that term lightly, Ware, who won the trophy as Pardee s quarterback at the University of Houston, said. His door was always open.

Hundreds of people showed up Monday to say goodbye to the former Houston Oilers and Houston Cougars coach. To most, Pardee will be remembered as the football player or coach, but to those who knew him, Pardee was a football star.

First, as a member of Paul Bear Bryant s Junction Boys at Texas A&M, where he was an All-American linebacker and then a 16-year pro in the NFL. He is the only coach ever to lead teams in college and four pro leagues.

However, for those praying and those who crowded St. Michael Church to say goodbye, Pardee was something far more special.

It was more than just a coach-player relationship... much, much more. That s why it touches you when someone directly has an effect on who you are. That s why it hurts to let go, Ware said.

He didn t play the big NFL card or anything like that, Ted Pardee, the coach s son, said. He was just... especially to us... he was just dad.

Pardee was relentless, teaching his children a minute-long prayer they still recite from memory. They said Pardee was the same through his ups and downs coaching.

In the 80 s, Pardee led the Houston Gamblers until the USFL collapsed around him. He bounced back with his ground-breaking run-and-shoot offense at UH. Then he pushed the Oilers to four straight playoff berths in the 90 s before retiring to his cattle ranch where he died a legend.

It s hard to argue that he wasn t as innovative a coach as there was in the history of football, Kevin Sumlin, former UH coach and current Texas A&M coach, said.

However, Pardee s children insist his life was less about winning or losing and more about living.

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