Less than two days after announcing that the Thursday exhibition finale between the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys would be played at the Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington, Texas instead of Houston’s NRG Stadium, the NFL has instead decided to cancel the game.
While the matchup was going to be used as a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Harvey, canceling now allows Texans players, coaches and staff to return home to their families in the flood-ravaged city. Water has receded enough in some places that the team can return to Houston.
It could make for a difficult situation for some back-of-the-depth-chart players on both teams, players who were slated to get a high number of reps in the game and get one last chance to show they deserve a spot on the roster, but in the big picture, returning home and returning to loved ones is priority.
A team statement posted by Amy Palcic, the Texans’ director of communications, said the team made the decision to travel back to Houston “after local authorities have now found a safe route for the team to drive home today. …At this time, the priority of our organization is getting our players, coaches and staff back home with to be reunited with their families, many of whom have been evacuated from their homes and are currently sheltered. The team feels it is imperative to get back home to help the Houston community recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.”
It continues, saying that the McNair family – Robert, Janice, Cal and Hannah – will make a donation equal to the money that would have been generated from ticket sales from Thursday’s game to recovery and relief efforts; fans who purchased tickets have the option of donating the cost of the tickets to relief efforts or receiving a refund through Ticketmaster.
The Texans flew to the Dallas area after their third preseason game, last week against the New Orleans Saints, and have been using the Cowboys practice facility in Frisco this week.
On Monday, visibly emotional Houston coach Bill O’Brien explained that three of the Texans’ coaches lived in areas that had mandatory evacuations, a couple of other coaches and some players lived in neighborhoods with voluntary evacuations, and some players had water in their homes. O’Brien said his home, where his wife and two sons – one of whom, Jack, requires constant care because of a rare brain disorder – was in an area that had not been affected by flooding.
Houston star defensive lineman J.J. Watt put out a call for donations to help the city he’s called home for over six years, and the overwhelming response has resulted in over $4 million in donations so far.
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