Living Out The Dream

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: November 4, 2008

HOUSTON — It’s not that unusual to attend two colleges or universities in the same city when seeking your undergraduate and graduate degrees. But it is quite unusual when both of those schools have their homecoming game and festivities on the same date.

Tony Wyllie, the Houston Texans Vice President of Communications attended both Texas Southern University and Rice University for his undergraduate and graduate studies.

This weekend, both schools will be celebrating their homecoming as Texas Southern plays host to Mississippi Valley State and Rice plays host to Army.

The former CyFair High School graduate received his Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Texas Southern University in 1993 and his Masters in Business Administration from Rice University in 2007.

Wyllie, who is now in his 16th NFL season, ninth with the Texans, credits his educational experiences at both Texas Southern and Rice for giving him the best of both worlds.

“I am so blessed to be a product of both schools,” Wyllie said. “Texas Southern University helped to prepare me by giving me exposure and allowing me to travel to different cities and schools.”

“Receiving my MBA from Rice was special because it was solely funded through Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, who helped to show me that this occupation is a business as well.”

We took time out to talk one-on-one with Tony Wyllie after the Texans had their most convincing win in Texans history, a 35-6 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Reliant Stadium.

BASN: Talk about your job experiences in the sports industry?

TW: I wrote for the Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, Houston Post, Texas Southern’s Athletic Department (1990-1992), Houston Astros Intern (1991-92), Houston Oilers Intern (1991-92), San Diego Chargers Intern (Summer of 1992), Assistant Director of Public Relations with the Dallas Cowboys (1993), St. Louis Rams (1994-1997), Tennessee Titans (1997-1999), and I joined the Houston Texans in the summer of 2000.

BASN: In 1995, you moved with the Rams to St. Louis and three years later, you became the youngest Public Relations Director in the NFL with the Tennessee Oilers. How special was that?

TW: It was very special. I had various other opportunities to go to other teams, but Rick Smith another Public Relations guy helped me along the way and told me that I was ready to go when the Tennessee job became available. It was very exciting to work with Steve McNair and Eddie George.

BASN: How many times have you gone to the Super Bowl with a team that you were working with and how many championship rings do you have?

TW: I went twice with the Dallas Cowboys and the Tennessee Titans. I have only received one championship ring and one conference championship ring.

BASN: In your 16 years in the NFL, you’ve had P.R. teams that have won the Pete Rozelle Award four times and have had many teams that have finished second. Has anyone else in the NFL achieved that?

TW: Rob Boulware with the Chargers helped me get in the door and I used to ask him what can I do to ever repay him, and he told me to just go out and help others like he had me. I don’t take anything for granted. God has blessed me to help others. You don’t do anything by yourself.

BASN: Who are some of the people who were most instrumental in your career?

TW: Bob Watson from the Houston Astros truly inspired me. He was the only black General Manager at that time and when I shared with him what I wanted to do he spent two hours with me on the phone. Darrell A. Simon, Event Manager at Reliant Park is another person. He’s gone from mentor to best friend. Our friendship has really developed over the years.

BASN: You have been blessed to work with staffs for NFC Championship games, Pro Bowls, NFL Management program, NFL Operations Personnel Symposium, and the last 8 Super Bowls. What’s next for Tony Wyllie?

TW: I just want to work hard. I love what I do and I do what I love. I’m going to continue to work hard and whatever path that God takes me on I’ll be ready for the challenge

BASN: What do you remember most about being at Texas Southern University?

TW: Everything! Everyone encouraged me all the time. From Sam Andrews, to Earl Jimerson, Coach Robert Moreland, Coach Highsmith, Doc Harvey and others. Despite being a student they treated me like a professional all the time.

BASN: Being a native of Brooklyn, New York, why did your parents, George & Cynthia Wyllie, move to Houston?

TW: I think it had a lot to do with the Oil Boom. We moved to Houston when I was 11 years old. My parents felt like Brooklyn wasn’t the best place to raise me. The only thing I knew about Houston was the Astros. I used to collect baseball cards.

BASN: You serve on various Board of Directors throughout the city, making your presence felt off the field as well. Elaborate on some of these positions.

TW: I take great pride in being on a lot of these boards, especially the March of Dimes. I was born premature and now I’m in position to help others who have premature babies. I also enjoy working with Earl Jimerson and the Touchdown Club of Houston as well as the Health Science Museum. My wife Natasha is a pediatrician and she’s very passionate about health science.

BASN: What is a typical work day like for Tony Wyllie?

TW: It’s long! It can start at 8:30 a.m. in the morning and it may not stop until after 10:30 p.m. You never know what may happen in this business so you have to be flexible.

BASN: What are the top 5 Most Memorable Moments in your career?

TW: 5. My first game in St. Louis at Busch Stadium vs. the New Orleans Saints. I met my wife Natasha that night!

4. The Rams vs. the Saints in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had 20 tickets. My entire family came down for the game.

3. The Houston Texans first win against the Dallas Cowboys.

2. The Music City Miracle: Titans vs. Buffalo Bills and the entire playoff schedule when the Titans defeated the Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and made it to the SuperBowl, where we lost to the St. Louis Rams.

1. Winning a SuperBowl with the Dallas Cowboys. That was really a special feeling, especially when Michael Irvin came up and hugged me and said “It don’t mean a thing, if you don’t have that ring.

BASN: You’re married now and have a son named James and a baby girl (Toni Simone) on the way. How special is it to be starting your family and how do you balance the two?

TW: It hasn’t been easy balancing the two; however, it has calmed me down and slowed me down a lot. It’s very moving when after a loss I will go home and my son will come running up to me and give me a hug. At that moment I know that everything is alright.

BASN: How do you feel about the direction that Texas Southern is going and what advice would you give to others who wish to follow in your footsteps?

TW: I like the direction that the school is headed in. I’m happy and I’m glad that Charles McClelland is there and coach Johnnie Cole. I was with him at TSU. We’ve been patient and we’re hungry. It’s been very exciting watching Prairie View turn things around and I know that it’s just a matter of time for the TSU Tigers to do the same. My advice for others is this: Anyone that has a love for sports can make it a very gratifying career. Just continue to network and seek out opportunities.

Be like NIKE — “JUST DO IT!”