Madam Speaker, according to Darrell Royal, there are only two sports in Texas--football and spring football. In coffee shops, barber shops and even in the beauty salons all across Texas, the talk is all the same--how's the team gonna be this year? It's that time of year, a time that folks in Texas and across the south prepare for all year long. Football in Texas is its own religion, where even your preacher cuts the sermon short on Sundays to get you home in time to watch the game. Nowhere else on earth will you find a culture so wrapped up in football like we are in Texas.

Proud Texans naturally believe everything is bigger and better in Texas--and that's because it is. And like most fathers, I am a proud dad. My son Kurt started playing football when he was 8 years old and I have watched him play every game from pee-wee football in Humble, Texas until he took the field wearing the purple and white of my alma mater, Abilene Christian University.

Throughout school, Kurt played quarterback. Quarterback is one of those positions that is tough on parents--it's all the frame or all the blame. Every time I saw him take the field wearing number 3, I saw that same little 8-year-old boy full of determination. It was that very determination that led to him walking on at ACU and earning a spot as a safety and becoming an Academic All Conference player. With this new position, came a new prayer for the Poe family. The word ``interception'' took on a whole new meaning for us.

I was a judge during that time and I would head out on Friday nights after court and drive all night to towns such as Kingsville, Canyon, Wichita Falls, Commerce, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Ada, Oklahoma, and of course, Abilene, to get there for Saturday's game. There is nothing more fun than being in a stadium on that first crisp fall weekend and seeing your team, and your son, take the field to thousands of college fans chanting: W-I-L-D-C-A-T-S, purple, white, purple, white, fight, fight, fight!

Texas football is that of legend and legacy. It has spawned books, movies, and a TV series. A look into a way of life that is so unique, so Texan. It's the Junction Boys, the Tyler Rose, the last minute touchdown run by Vince Young of Texas against USC in the Rose Bowl National Championship game--I was there by the way with my son Kurt. What a game. What a memory.

Yes, Texans love their football--right down to the names they choose for their children to the cars they buy. I am sure there is some big executive up in Detroit wondering why they have to send so many maroon pickups to Texas. We may not have too many fall weddings on Saturdays, because they conflict with college football, but I am willing to bet that you have been to a wedding where the new Mr. and Mrs. took off down the aisle to the ``Eyes of Texas'' or got a big ``Whoop!'' after the preacher declared them husband and wife.

Now I am not one to say that we don't love our Texans and Cowboys. A smile still comes across my face when I think of the Astrodome and those Luv Ya Blue days. But, professional football today just doesn't have that same thrill and excitement anymore. Sure, maybe up North it does since they don't have high school stadiums that hold 15,000 people, field turf, jumbotrons and the caliber of coaches and players we have in Texas.

But it's not just the facilities, what makes the game so special is the atmosphere of it all. It's the band, the drill team, the cheerleaders, the moms selling T-shirts, the school clubs hanging banners--the whole atmosphere is what makes the game great. The whole community comes together, people from all walks of life get together every weekend and share in the tears and cheers and root for their team to victory.

So this weekend and every weekend in the fall, Texas families put on school colors and head to the game. They grab some hot dogs and a coke and take part in one of Texas's finest traditions. You see some of those folks that you went to high school with and some of the same old guys sitting in the same seats they were in 20-30 years ago. The players, the coaches, the trainers, the cheerleaders, the drill team and all those people that volunteer their time to support the kids are all part of the excitement. Football in Texas is something special. It's the Texas Religion.

And That's Just the Way It Is.