Bears center Roberto Garza will never forget the first time he met a professional athlete.
Garza had just graduated from Rio Hondo High School in southern Texas when he got a chance to chat with Cowboys star Tony Casillas. The two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle had won two Super Bowl rings with Dallas, and at the time was one of the few Hispanic players in the NFL.
“I was a huge Cowboys fan,” said Garza, whose parents had emigrated to Rio Hondo from Mexico shortly before he was born. “Knowing who he was and with a [Hispanic] last name like Casillas, he was someone I looked up to, and getting a chance to meet him was awesome.
“I remember telling him I was going to [the University of Texas A&M at] Kingsville and my dream was to someday play in the NFL. He said, ‘Work hard and give everything you’ve got.’”
Now a 12-year NFL veteran, Garza is excited about returning home to face the Cowboys Monday night in Dallas.
“It’s great,” Garza said. “I have 75 people coming to the game. It’s always fun to play in your home state against a team you grew up rooting for.”
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