Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans Return Home After NFL Cancels Preseason Finale

Deshaun Watson, like his Texans teammates, has taken his last preseason snaps for 2017.
Deshaun Watson, like his Texans teammates, has taken his last preseason snaps for 2017. Photo by Eric Sauseda
In a move that was mildly surprising, if for no other reason than because there had been roughly 40,000 tickets sold to it in the past few days, the final game of the 2017 preseason between the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys was canceled by the NFL on Wednesday afternoon.

The game was originally scheduled to be played Thursday night at NRG Stadium, but was forced north to Dallas when the initial stages of Hurricane Harvey demanded that the Texans divert their flights to Dallas instead. The Texans had been using the Cowboys practice facility in Frisco the past two days, and the two teams even made a joint announcement on Tuesday that proceeds from the game would benefit flood victims:
However, on Wednesday morning, once travel back to Houston was deemed possible, the determination was made to cancel the game so that players could reunite with their families:

Here are the ramifications of the decision to cancel that final preseason game:

1. As outlined in the statement tweeted out by Texans PR, the potential recipients of the charitable money generated from ticket sales will still be made whole by the McNair family. Up until the announcement, there had been approximately 40,000 tickets sold at $25 apiece, so Bob McNair and his family are cutting a check for roughly a million bucks.

2. The players will be off until Monday, when preparation for Jacksonville in Week 1 will begin. Unfortunately for a handful of players battling for roster spots or a spot on the practice squad, the cancellation of this game deprived them of one final chance to make an impression on the coaching staff. As this was the fourth preseason game, chances are none of the starters or key reserves would have played anyway.

3. If you're looking for positive intangibles for this team heading into the season, there's a really good chance that this is the closest team the Texans have fielded in their history, as the combination of the month spent in West Virginia away from families and this recent mini-crisis caused by Hurricane Harvey probably helped forge a strong bond amongst the players. O'Brien said as much:

“I think it’s brought us closer. I mean, time will tell. We have to play well. In the end, we know that this weekend’s about family but Monday we’ll start getting ready for Jacksonville and in the end, our job is to win football games. So, we know we have to get back to the business of that but this whole past month, I don’t think it’s been distracting, I think it’s been a month that has really brought our team closer together and we’re all excited about getting going on Monday.”
4. O'Brien and J.J. Watt both confirmed that the team will spend a significant amount of time over the next few days helping out the community, delivering supplies and assisting in the recovery effort. Here was Watt on that topic:

"Our first wave of things is hopefully Sunday, delivering things to the people of Houston. I’m also working – I want you to know that when I say Houston, I mean Rockport, I mean Victoria, things like that. It’s not just the Houston metropolitan, it’s everywhere. So, thank you to everybody’s who has donated. Please, please keep donating. We’re going to try to get to $10 million.”
The $10 million Watt is referring to is his site, which began as an effort to raise $200,000 and has taken on a life of its own. As of Wednesday night, the total was up to $7.5 MILLION, and Watt had adjusted the goal to $10 million.
Incredible. Watt is the early lock for NFL Man of the Year.

5. Last but not least, it was confirmed by Texans general manager Rick Smith that the Week 1 game against Jacksonville will be played at NRG Stadium:

“Nothing has to happen. The game is at NRG. It’s scheduled to be played at NRG, so it will be played at NRG.”
The pop for J.J. Watt during player introductions might need to be measured with a Richter scale.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast