Posted on August 28, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Houston Texans were scheduled to play their fourth and final preseason game at home in NRG Stadium. But that may not be possible due to the havoc and destruction Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has done on the Texas coast. Of course, they could just move the game to Arlington and make it a home game for the Cowboys.
But should they?
The Texans were not able to return home after playing the Saints in New Orleans Saturday night. For now, they are in Dallas and practicing at the Cowboys new training facility, The Star. When asked if the game should be canceled, several of players and head coach Bill O’ Brien side-stepped answering it.
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But J.J. Watt made it pretty clear what he thinks without directly saying it.
“I think there are much bigger things at hand, absolutely,” Watt said after Monday’s practice at The Star (PFT). “I think that the most important thing right now is family and friends and the city of Houston back home, making sure they’re safe, making sure they’re taken care of it.”
Most of the players and coaches have homes and loved ones stuck trying to deal with all the chaos caused by the weather. So, practicing and concentrating on preparing for a meaningless preseason football can’t be easy. Factor in that many of them will not play since it is the last game, and it seems almost silly for them to stay in Dallas.
The NFL canceled the Hall of Fame Game within hours of kickoff because the field was unsafe. On two other occasions, the NFL has canceled preseason games but only because the turf was not deemed safe (in Houston in 1995 and Philadelphia in 2001).
Regular season games have been rescheduled but never canceled.
So, why not cancel this one? It’s not really safe for either team to travel to the stadium. It’s not like the game is important or either team’s stars are going to play. Yeah, it means something to the fringe guys, but the teams could probably make the decisions they need to without it.
Well—there is a very good reason not to cancel it even though it means nothing. It’s the same reason why people get upset by all the protests during the National Anthem. They turn to football for an escape from the trials and tribulations in their lives. They look to football as a means of escaping whatever issues are hounding them; whatever problems they may have.
Having an ocean of water dumped on you sounds like just the kind of problem folks might want to escape from.
As it turns out, the game is not going to be canceled. It is now set to be played at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington. No information has been released about tickets or parking yet.
In the past, games that were moved or rescheduled ended up being free to the general public. But charging something—even if it is just $10 a ticket – could be a great way for the NFL to raise some much-needed money for victims of the flooding in Houston.
While talking to the press Monday, J.J. Watt expressed hope that if the game is played that it be used to help raise money (PFT).
“If there is something played this week, I think we should definitely involve some sort of fundraiser, some sort of way to benefit the people back home because I think this is a much bigger issue than just a football game.”
Sunday night Watt announced that he was starting his own fundraising drive. He kick-started it with $100,000 donation of his own. It couldn’t have hurt his efforts when the broadcast team covering the Sunday night San Francisco 49ers-Minnesota Vikings game showed his video from Twitter during the game.
Watt is not the only person stepping up to help out. Texans owner Bob McNair has donated $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston Flood Relief Fund. The NFL Foundation has also chipped in $1 million. New England Patriots owner Bob McNair has agreed to match donations up to $1 million (ESPN).
“These dollars will be put to go use in the relief and recovery efforts,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Monday during a news conference in Frisco, Texas. “We also hope our actions will encourage others to do whatever they can to help their neighbors in need right now.”
[UPDATE: August 30, 2017]
ESPN is reporting that the game has now been canceled. Tickets had gone on sale for $25 with all funds going to help victims of the flooding in Houston. Fans who bought tickets (40,000 had been sold) will be given an option to get a refund or donate the money.
Is it the right decision? Few, if any, will say that it wasn’t. But it could have been used as a nationwide fundraiser. The game was originally scheduled to be broadcast locally, but it was switched to the NFL Network’s nationwide broadcast. The entire broadcast could have been a three+ hour fundraiser.
Several sports owners have stepped up to lend a helping hand in the wake of Hurrican/Tropical Storm Harvey. Rockets owner Les Alexander has upped his donation from $4 million to $10 million. The NBA and NBA Players Association are donating $1 million. The New York Jets have donated $1 million as have the Tennessee Titans. The Dallas Cowboys will be hosting a telethon. The Texas Rangers have caught a lot of flack for refusing to switch games with the Houston Astros, but they have donated $1 million as well.
Several players in MLB, the NBA, and the NFL have stepped up to make donations as well. J.J. Watt’s donation drive is closing in on $6 million (as of early Wednesday afternoon it was at $5.75 million)