April 26, 2006, 7:56AM
NFL DRAFT

The great debate
After months of deliberation, decision day is near for the Texans. And in making closing arguments, some fans are willing to spend
 

Vince Young's provenance, personality and big-game performances have the Texans in a pickle. While they don't seem to think the Houston-born-and-reared quarterback of the national champion Texas Longhorns is the right fit as they attempt to recover from a 2-14 season, there are those in the community who disagree.

Lots of them, apparently.

One man, season ticket-holder Holly Frost, spent thousands of dollars for a full-page ad in last Sunday's Chronicle to beseech the Texans to select Young with the top pick in Saturday's NFL draft. He admonished them for "not taking calculated risks to get much better" and for taking "the easy way out" with Southern California running back Reggie Bush, whom conventional wisdom considers the best offensive prospect in this year's draft.

"I've been looking at players coming out (of college) for 20 years trying to decide which ones are going to make it," said Frost, 61, who founded Texas Memory Systems, a company specializing in computer memory storage, 27 years ago. "As near as I can tell, Vince Young looks like the best player with the biggest potential I've ever seen. From my humble point of view, it's a no-brainer.

"Every time I see Vince or hear him speak, I say to myself, 'Damn, that's a cool dude.' I like what he says and how humbly he carries himself."

In the ad, Frost also asked his fellow fans to contact the Texans through their fan feedback Web site and tell the team they believe the former Madison High School star should start his NFL career in Houston. The Texans say more than
300 Young advocates have responded. A spokesperson said every e-mail or fax has been, or will be, individually answered.

"We respect all our fans' opinions, and we sincerely appreciate that they care enough about the Houston Texans to voice them," said Tony Wyllie, the team's vice president, of communications. "That's why we offer (fanfeedback@houstontexans.com). We want to know what they're thinking."

Jim McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture and one of the Texans' most prominent corporate sponsors, hasn't written in, but he's not a bit bashful about sharing his thoughts. A former Longhorn who was at the Rose Bowl for the BCS championship game, McIngvale said he doesn't know Frost but noted they're kindred spirits. McIngvale is in the process of buying a two-page ad to run in Thursday's Chronicle.

"My point of view on Vince is real simple," said the man known as "Mattress Mack." "I saw what he did against USC, and for me, it's kind of like the gospel at church last Sunday. When Thomas stuck his hand on Jesus' side, he believed. Well, I believe in Vince."

McIngvale and his wife, Linda, also own Westside Tennis Club and were responsible for bringing the ATP Tour back to Houston six years ago. He compared Young to tennis champion Pete Sampras.

"Vince is the Pete Sampras of football," he said. "He steps up in the big moments. And he's a Houston kid on top of that. How do you pass him up?"

The view from I-45

McIngvale was speaking from his customary post at the front desk of his store on Interstate 45, where a replay of Texas' dramatic win over Bush and the Trojans can be seen repeating on the sea of TVs for sale. Young scored the winning touchdown on a fourth-down keeper in the final moments, having led the Longhorns back from 12 points behind with six minutes to play.

"I'm watching No. 10 right now," McIngvale said. "He just keeps getting better. They all tell me Reggie Bush is so great. USC's got 12 guys going to go play in the pros. Texas has five. Tell me who made his team better. Hello?"

Said Frost, whose son attended UT: "As soon as Vince got the ball in the fourth quarter, you felt, 'We've got it made. Vince has the football.' "

A devotee of the Dallas Cowboys who openly disdained the Oilers before the Texans' first game in 2002, Frost was speaking only as a fan when he bought his ad. He concedes he has renewed his season tickets and that if the Texans don't take Young, "I'll just shake my head and have a bad opinion of them. Sure, I'll still go the games."

Frost is adamant that he wasn't seeking publicity. His company wasn't mentioned in the ad, nor did he use his full last name in the letter.

"I've lived in Texas since the 1950s," he said. "I'm an entrepreneur. I've made some money over the years, and I'm just trying to have a positive impact. The one thing I've learned in business is that you try to hire people who make good decisions. Vince Young looks like he makes good decisions. You read that Vince can't do this or he can't do that, and wait until he sees an NFL linebacker. But you can say that about anybody coming out of college."

When he agreed to buy his tickets for next year, Frost sent the same letter to the Texans about Young that later appeared in the ad. After it garnered no response — "They probably just tossed it away," he said — he contacted the Chronicle and put his money where he mouth was.

"The Texans are saying, 'We'll draft Bush no matter what happens. People can't argue with our decision,' " he said. "Well, yes, you can argue, and I did with my ad."

Better return wanted

McIngvale speaks as both a fan and a corporate sponsor. Asked if the Texans' choosing Bush will impact his future business relationship with the team, he replied: "It darn sure ain't going to help it. I'm a marketing guy. I think Vince would be over the top for them. I don't want to go through another year like last year when I basically threw my money away.

"I'm obligated for a couple more years, and I'm big on fulfilling my commitment. But ongoing I've got to take a look at it because regardless of the football implications, (drafting Young) would at least double the value of my sponsorship overnight."

Told how McIngvale felt, Frost said: "Good for him."

dale.robertson@chron.com