The NFL American football preseason game between the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys has been cancelled after a safe travel route has been found for the Texans after Hurricane Harvey forced players and staff out of their homes.
The severe weather conditions hit Southeastern Texas hard this past weekend causing major flooding in the Houston area.
After originally rescheduling the game to be played at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium home ground in Arlington, the NFL has made the decision to allow the Texans to make their way back to Houston to be reunited with family and loved ones.
The team’s statement read: “At this time, the priority of our organisation is getting our players, coaches and staff back home 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.”
Texans general manager Rick Smith said, according to the ABC News website, that the team’s first regular-season game will go ahead as planned at NRG Stadium: “Nothing has to happen,” he said. “The game is at NRG. It’s scheduled to be played in NRG, so it will be played in NRG.”
Players rejoiced after hearing the preseason game had been cancelled and they were heading home, Smith told ABC News.
“I’ve been increasingly impressed with them as we’ve dealt with all the things we’ve had to deal with over the last couple of days,” he said. “And the way they have been resilient, and the way they have maintained their focus during practice and being pros. But it was a shout of joy when we announced we were going home. I think everyone wants to get there.”
More than 40,000 tickets were sold for the Texans-Cowboys game, and the organisation said fans would have the option to donate the money to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, or request a refund through Ticketmaster. The Texans added that the McNair family, which owns the team, “will make a donation equal to the money that would have been generated from ticket sales.”
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said, according to ABC: “I think it’s the right decision. Everybody here is obviously most concerned about their families, their friends, the City of Houston back home. So I think it’s extremely important that we get home as quickly as we possibly can. I know we’re all very excited to get there and see our people, but also start helping.”
Watt raised almost $500,000 towards his $1m (£772,000/€831,000) target for the relief fund, as of two days ago when the relocation was announced.
While the Texans’ NRG Stadium is reportedly undamaged, there has been major flooding nearby. The team is scheduled to open its season at home on September 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Image: US Department of Defence