There are heavy hitters, and then there are people like former Secretary of State James Baker, who has been a party to negotiations as monumental as the breakup of the Soviet empire and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Who better to sell the NFL on staging Super Bowl LI in Houston?

Texans owner Bob McNair broached the idea to Baker during the team’s playoff victory over Cincinnati in January, admitting he couldn’t be certain if the 82-year-old attorney, statesman and über-political operative would have any interest in involving himself in such a campaign.

But Baker immediately accepted, and Monday he explained why. In short, it’s because he’s a Houstonian through and through — four generations of Bakers have called the city home — and, being a Texan, he loves football.

After McNair introduced him at a Reliant Stadium news conference Monday as the honorary chairman of Houston’s Super Bowl LI bid committee, Baker said, “I haven’t played since high school, but I certainly enjoy the game. I’m also part of a dwindling breed of native Houstonians, and there aren’t a hell of a lot of us left. My family’s been here since 1872, if you can believe it, since my great-grandfather joined the law firm that carries his name.

“I did move to Washington on a couple of occasions to take part in another blood sport called politics, but I’ve always come back to Houston after my team in that sport was defeated. So when Bob, who’s been a friend for a long, long time — before there were (the) Texans — asked me to take this on, I immediately agreed with no hesitation.