With all of the hype and promise surrounding Chris Johnson, Vince Young, and an exciting defense, it is sometimes easy to forget the long-lost days of lore. Their 37 years in Houston makes it almost seem like it was a different franchise altogether.
From the wide-open new-frontier days of the nascent AFL to the free-wheeling 1970s, when oil derricks and cowboy hats were the norm, the organization has a richer history than most would imagine.
Here, at the dawn of their 50th season, is a look back at the key players that helped shape the franchise.
All but three are in the Hall of Fame, but each and every one left their indelible mark not only on the team, but on NFL history.