COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — It’s a daily occurrence at H-E-B at Tower Point in College Station. Customers walk up to the pharmacy, see the name and photo of the pharmacist on the wall, then ask the same question when that pharmacist appears behind the window.
“Are you the football player?”
The Eagle reports he is not the football player. He is Shane Lechler, a 39-year-old Texas A&M graduate who shares the same name as the 42-year-old Texas A&M graduate and football player.
The latter Lechler starred as punter for the A&M football team from 1996 to 1999 and in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans until last year. Lechler the pharmacist attended A&M from 1998 to 2002, graduating with a biomedical sciences degree. He graduated from the University of Houston’s pharmacy school in 2007. His wife, Jennifer, graduated from A&M in 2003. They have three children.
Customers at H-E-B often think the punter retired to become a pharmacist. Jennifer says one encounter rankled her husband a bit, when a customer asked if he was the punter’s father: “He’s like, ‘No! He’s older than I am!’”
The first major case of mistaken identity came in an A&M classroom. Lechler had a professor who had previously taught the punter in another class and knew this Shane didn’t look like that Shane. The professor investigated the matter, Lechler says, to verify that there were no academic shenanigans involved.
There have been perks. Lechler says he got out of a speeding ticket on campus because of his name, “so that was nice.”
Some unusual moments have come from making reservations for an anniversary dinner. Jennifer recalls one instance in which they were “treated like royalty,” with a special table, a free appetizer and other goodies. A staff member thanked the couple for coming in and asked them how things were in Houston.
“We were like, ‘Ohhh. This isn’t how you treat your regular anniversary guests,’” Jennifer says with a laugh. “‘You think it’s that Shane.’ … Anywhere you make a reservation in this town, usually somebody comes out and they think it’s that Shane Lechler.”
One situation took an odd turn. While attending pharmacy school, Lechler frequently played golf, sometimes joining in with random players on the course. One day he received a phone call from a man who said they had played together. That seemed plausible, until the man said Lechler had pledged to help his son with his kicking. When Lechler clarified that he’s not that Lechler, it angered the man, who thought the punter was blowing him off.
“I told him, ‘You are more than welcome to come over,’” Lechler recalls. “‘I can show your son how to kick, but you are going to be very disappointed.’”
The name has even allowed Lechler to pull a fast one on his children. He told them one day that he used to play football. Then he turned on a Texans game he had recorded, cued up to a punt play. The announcer said, “Here comes Shane Lechler,” and the kids were “going crazy,” Lechler says.
“Kids are gullible,” he says. “So it was easy.”
The two Shanes have never met, but do have a few mutual friends. Lechler says the punter signed a golf towel that was passed on to him. It read: “To Shane Lechler. From Shane Lechler.”
“There’s not a better person to be confused with,” Lechler says. “He’s a Christian guy. He’s a family guy. He’s had a great career in the NFL. And he’s an Aggie. So if people confuse me with him, I’m OK with that.”