Tex­ans ready to head home to Hous­ton after game can­celed

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

The Tex­ans headed home to flood-rav­aged Hous­ton after their fi­nal pre­sea­son game against the Dal­las Cow­boys was can­celed Wed­nes­day.

“We’ve got sev­eral mem­bers of our travel party — our coaches, our play­ers, our staff mem­bers — whose fam­i­lies have been evac­u­ated,” gen­eral man­ager Rick Smith said. “There is so much dev­as­ta­tion in the city and the re­gion and we want to be part of the re­cov­ery process.”

The game sched­uled for Thurs­day night had been moved from Hous­ton to the home of the Cow­boys be­cause of wide­spread flood­ing in the Hous­ton area in the wake of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey. The de­ci­sion to can­cel the game al­to­gether was an­nounced when the Tex­ans said lo­cal au­thor­i­ties had found a safe route for the team to drive the 250 miles home.

Smith said Wed­nes­day was the first day they had the op­tion to re­turn to Hous­ton and the team felt it was bet­ter to go home than to try and play a game on Thurs­day.

“When it be­came avail­able to us, we’ve got so many guys on the team that are dis­tracted by all the events and the cir­cum­stances that it be­came in­creas­ingly more dif­fi­cult from our per­spec­tive to go out and try to play a foot­ball game,” Smith said. “And I’m not sure it would have been fair to do so. So when the op­por­tu­nity arose to­day that we had a safe route to get home (we) made the de­ci­sion to can­cel the game.”

After the Tex­ans played their pre­sea­son game in New Or­leans last week­end, they went to North Texas in­stead of home after the storm. The Tex­ans worked out Mon­day and Tues­day at the Cow­boys’ prac­tice fa­cil­ity.

Smith wasn’t sure when the Tex­ans would re­sume prac­tice, but said that NRG Sta­dium wasn’t dam­aged in the storm and that their opener there on Sept. 10 against the Jack­sonville Jaguars would go on as planned.

“We’re hurt­ing, Hous­ton is hurt­ing, but we’re strong,” Smith said. “We’ve been there over a decade and we are part of the fab­ric of the community.”

Tex­ans star de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt was pleased with the de­ci­sion to can­cel the game and get back to Hous­ton.

“I think it’s the right de­ci­sion,” he said. “Ev­ery­body here is ob­vi­ously most con­cerned about their fam­i­lies, their friends, the city of Hous­ton back home. I think it’s ex­tremely im­por­tant that we get home as quickly as we pos­si­bly can.”

Watt al­most didn’t know to re­act to the stun­ning growth of his flood re­lief fundrais­ing ef­fort, which started with a web page and a video Sun­day. Since then, he’s been of­fer­ing video up­dates as the to­tal climbed over $6 mil­lion. The orig­i­nal goal was $200,000.

“We’ve upped the goal to $10 mil­lion be­cause ev­ery­thing is big­ger in Texas,” he said. “Why not? Let’s shoot for $10 mil­lion and see what we can do.”

Watt added that he has trucks filled with sup­plies that he ex­pects to ar­rive in Hous­ton by this week­end.

“The ten­ta­tive plan is Sun­day we’re go­ing to have a bunch of my team­mates are go­ing to help me out in a few dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions around town to be de­ter­mined and we’re go­ing to hand out sup­plies,” he said.

Watt said he’s been moved by watch­ing every­one that has helped out in the cri­sis so far and is look­ing for­ward to pitch­ing in.

“It’s been ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to watch,” he said. “But it’s also been un­be­liev­ably mo­ti­va­tional to see fire­fight­ers, po­lice­man. Ev­ery­day cit­i­zens out in boats help­ing each other out ... it’s an un­be­liev­able thing to wit­ness what hap­pens in a time of cri­sis. The most dif­fi­cult times bring out the best in hu­man­ity.”

Cow­boys tight end Jason Wit­ten and most of the starters for both teams wouldn’t have played in the pre­sea­son fi­nale, and Wit­ten said he was happy the Tex­ans were go­ing home.

“I know they’re prob­a­bly anx­ious to get home and see their fam­i­lies, just as­sess the sit­u­a­tion,” Wit­ten said. “These guys have a great op­por­tu­nity and plat­form to go back and check on their own fam­i­lies and get in­volved in the community and rally in a lot of ways.”

Coach Jason Gar­rett said the Cow­boys were plan­ning a prac­tice Thurs­day that would in­volve “some sort of community out­reach.”

“We told our team at the out­set of the week that it might be a funny week given the cir­cum­stances that they’re go­ing through down in Hous­ton,” Gar­rett said. “We’re not go­ing to play the game. It’s easy to see why. Now we just have to ad­just.”

TONY GUTIERREZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Hous­ton Tex­ans play­ers stand on the side­line wait­ing to run sprints at the start of a morn­ing prac­tice at the Dal­las Cow­boys train­ing fa­cil­ity Mon­day in Frisco, Texas. The Tex­ans are work­ing out in the prac­tice fa­cil­ity of the Dal­las Cow­boys be­cause of floods pound­ing Hous­ton. An ex­hi­bi­tion game in the Tex­ans’ sta­dium Thurs­day might be moved to the home of the Cow­boys.

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