After Hurricane Harvey barreled into Southeastern Texas over the weekend, leaving devastating floods in its wake, the NFL relocated the game from Houston to Arlington. Yet, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, one of the reasons for canceling the game now is for players to get back to Houston, help out in the relief efforts and be with their families.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and Garafolo first reported the cancellation.
The Houston Texans have made the decision to travel back to Houston after local authorities have now found a safe route for the team to drive home today. The fourth preseason game scheduled for Thursday night in Dallas will be cancelled. At this time, the priority of our organization 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 devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Robert, Janice, Cal and Hannah McNair will make a donation equal to the money that would have been generated from ticket sales from Thursday's preseason game in Arlington to recovery and relief efforts.
Fans that have purchased tickets to Thursday's game will have the option to donate the money to relief efforts or request a refund through Ticketmaster. Further details regarding refunds will be announced later today.
Texans general manager Rick Smith addressed reporters from Plano, Texas, before the team headed back to Houston.
"We did not have the option up until today to get the team safely home," Smith said. "So that wasn't available to us. And so when it became available to us, we've got so many guys on the team that are distracted by all of the events and circumstances and things that are happening at home that it became increasingly more difficult from our perspective to ask those guys to go out and try to play a football game. I'm not so sure it would have been fair to do so. So when the opportunity arose today that we had a safe route to get home, the decision was made to cancel the game and get our guys home."
Lee added that several players are formulating a plan to possibly do something Thursday to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Many in the NFL have already been active in raising money to help those affected by the hurricane this week, including the Texans themselves. Star pass rusher J.J. Watt has raised more than $7 million, with a new goal of $10 million set. Texans owner Bob McNair announced a donation of $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston's flood relief fund.
In addition, the NFL Foundation is matching the Texans' $1 million relief donation, Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones Anderson announced earlier this week. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is matching up to $1 million in donations to American Red Cross relief efforts in the region. The Jets and the Johnson family will donate $1 million to the American Red Cross and Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk donated $1 million to Watt's fundraising campaign.
"These dollars will be put to good use in the relief and recovery efforts," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said Monday.
O'Brien also announced the players and team would dedicate their 2017 season to the city of Houston.