FRISCO, Texas — While J.J. Watt still thinks the Houston-Dallas preseason game shouldn’t be played because of catastrophic flooding in Houston, the star defensive end for the Texans is getting his wish that money generated by the exhibition finale will go to Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.
Watt, who started a fundraising page that reached $4 million in donations in barely more than two days, reiterated his stance that the game originally scheduled for Houston on Thursday night should have been scrapped instead of moved to the home of the Cowboys.
The Texans, who are in charge of the game since they are technically the home team, said Tuesday that tickets and parking will be $25 apiece. Tickets were available online starting Tuesday night.
“I think the only good thing that can possibly come out of a game on Thursday would be a massive fundraiser,” Watt said. “This is bigger than football. It’s bigger than a game. It’s bigger than any of us.”
Speaking of massive fundraisers, Watt almost didn’t know to react to the stunning growth of his effort, which started with a web page and a selfie video Sunday. Since then, he’s been offering video updates as the total climbed. The original goal was $200,000.
The highlight Tuesday was a $1 million donation from Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk, daughter of the late Bud Adams. Strunk’s father owned the Houston Oilers when the franchise moved to Nashville in 1997.
“That’s remarkable, from a team in our division, one of our rivals, willing to go above and beyond football,” Watt said . “It just speaks to humanity. It speaks to the good in people.”
The team flew to the Dallas area after a preseason loss in New Orleans last weekend and practiced the past two days at Cowboys headquarters. Coach Bill O’Brien said the Texans were hopeful of a return home before Monday.
The Texans have two concerns that dwarf the game against the Cowboys, which will involve few if any starters. The first is their families back in Houston. The second is the season opener against Jacksonville, which is supposed to be at home Sept. 10.
“It’s not easy, but being a professional athlete isn’t,” linebacker Brian Cushing said. “We have to juggle a lot of different things and be expected to do it at the highest level.”
All team personnel are accounted for, and O’Brien said the club was working to help the players who weren’t on the trip that never made it back to Houston. He has said there were about 10.
“Two or three times a day, we’ve tried to reach them,” O’Brien said. “Sometimes the issue is the cell service, not being able to get them on the cellphone. But we’re doing the best we can to help. Some guys are in areas that are harder hit than other areas.”
O’Brien said the position and roster battles that always define the preseason finale will give plenty of players something to think about other than what’s going on at home.
“I realize it’s not the AFC championship game,” O’Brien said. “But I will tell you for all the guys that are going to play in that game, it’s a very important game. It’s an important game for them as Houston Texans and it’s an important game for them to be able put some good football on tape.”
And soon after, the Texans hope they will be home.