“I'd like to apologize for making a poor decision, being out at night when I wasn't supposed to and doing the wrong thing,” said Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston, looking into the array of cameras and reporters sitting in front of him.
Houston had already delivered an apology to teammates at a meeting the day after his arrest and, according to Texas head coach Mack Brown, he wanted to give a public one as well.
“I wanted to apologize and let everyone have an understanding of where I'm coming from and how remorseful I really am. I don't want anyone having the wrong idea of who I really am,” said Houston.
The 6-2, 279-pound defensive tackle spoke quietly about the mistake he'd made and how sorry he felt, but there was one point during the press conference where Houston couldn't hold back and started to tear up. It was when he spoke about disappointing his biggest fan.
“I have a nephew who's nine years old and he's always on the computer and he's always looking at these things and for me to apologize to him was my toughest thing because he's my biggest fan,” said Houston, tears welling in his eyes.
He fought back the tears and continued.
“There are a lot of little people looking up to you. Everything you do is watched and make sure you make the right decisions because people are watching you and you're a role model to other people, even though you might not want to be. You have to watch what you do,” said Houston.
Houston was picked up early in the morning after Texas' season-opening win over Florida Atlantic for drunken driving following a minor accident with another vehicle. According to police reports, Houston failed a field sobriety test on the scene and was arrested.
Brown suspended Houston indefinitely and, at the time, didn't give out a specific length for suspension. Brown explained on Monday that the reason he waited was because he handles each situation involving a player arrest by itself and he wanted to gather more information.
“We do it all individually and that's the truth,” said Brown. “You want three things to happen, in my estimation. You want, No. 1, for him to learn from it and never do it again. That's the most important thing here. Secondly, you've got to do what you feel like sends the best message to your team and the kids on your team and thirdly you'd like the message to be to other kids.”
Houston missed only a single game while suspended, much shorter than the three games that Sergio Kindle and Henry Melton each received last season following their DWI arrests. But Brown actually consulted both Kindle and Melton, and their parents, before making his decision to allow Houston to play, asking them which parts of the punishment were most effective in giving a lesson.
“I felt like the disciplinary action outside of football was much more effective than the game,” said Brown.
Along with the one-game suspension and apologies, Houston will do charity work with the Mitchie Mitchell Foundation (a local drunk driving awareness organization), work at a homeless shelter and get counseling. This is outside of any action taken by the state because Houston's case is still pending.
Brown felt that, given Houston's exemplary record up to this point and other factors, this is the appropriate punishment. He also said doesn't plan on ever having any set rule for the number of games a player would miss because of an arrest.
“I don't want to have rules that put me in a corner, where I can't do what's best for that kid,” said Brown.
Houston is just happy he can finally play and said he's gained a greater application for the game.
“It's like I'm a freshman again, coming back to play for the first time. I'm very excited,” said Houston.
Kick-off against Arkansas is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.