Unfortunately for Houston Texans running back Buddy Howell, he walked off the field in Week 4 still searching for his first win of the season.
Lost in the fourth straight loss for quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans was the team honored cancer survivors with cutouts in the stands. Howell, a third-year running back and special teams contributor, chose to honor his former college professor from Florida Atlantic University.
The end result showed Howell’s character and, even on a rough day for the Houston Texans, gave the franchise a heartwarming moment.
Buddy Howell is in his third season with the Texans
A standout running back who ran for 22 touchdowns in four seasons at Florida Atlantic, Gregory “Buddy” Howell went undrafted in 2018.
Howell spent that preseason with the hometown Miami Dolphins, where he played running back and on special teams. The rookie even caught a touchdown pass from backup Brock Osweiler late in the preseason.
Miami opted to cut Howell, though, and Houston picked him up before he could land on the Dolphins’ practice squad. Howell has been with the Texans since September 2018.
Howell mostly contributes on on special teams
Although Buddy Howell is officially a running back, he is more of a Matthew Slater-type than he is Matt Forte.
Howell played only 39 offensive snaps in his first two seasons, 36 of which came in 2019. In limited opportunities, Howell picked up 10 yards on five carries.
Where Howell does his damage, however, is on special teams. Howell totaled 14 tackles, a forced fumble, and recovered a fumble across 31 games in his first two years. Howell played 57% of the Texans’ special team snaps as a rookie and increased that percentage to 65% last year.
Through his first four games in 2020, Howell saw action on 59% of the Texans’ special teams snaps.
Buddy Howell just honored a ‘grateful’ college professor
Because he is a special teams ace rather than a workhorse or change-of-pace running back, Buddy Howell doesn’t have a large national following.
That could change after what happened in Week 4. Houston honored cancer survivors with cutouts at NRG Stadium and Howell dedicated a cutout to Dr. Kim Dunn, an accounting professor who taught and mentored Howell at FAU.
Dunn is a breast cancer survivor. In an interview with ABC 13 in Houston, Dunn shared what the cutout meant to her.
“When he told me he wanted to recognize me as a family member who had survived cancer at the game [on Sunday] it really meant a lot. I just wanted [the] world to know how special Buddy is and what a great person he is.”
In a lengthy tweet, Dunn — who is white — described forming a relationship with Howell, who is Black, and urged others to look past racial stereotypes.
Dunn recalled Howell falling asleep in her class and, later, meeting with her for “extra help so that he could succeed.”
Dunn said she was “grateful” for Howell and the relationship they have. She called him “my dear son.”
“With all the bias and hate in the world today, I am so grateful that Buddy and I didn’t allow racial stereotypes to define or influence us,” she wrote. “I would have missed out on knowing an incredible young man.”