In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the National Football League has decided to cancel the August 31 preseason contest between the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys. I don’t agree with 100% of the NFL’s decisions, but this was absolutely the right call.
This game was originally scheduled as a home game for Houston at NRG Stadium. These plans were changed following the landfall of Hurricane Harvey on Friday, August 26, with the flooding, deaths and destruction that came with it. As of today, 31 people are confirmed dead. The estimates for repair and rebuilding measure near $160 billion. Many districts in the area saw more than 50 inches of rain in four days, a total normally associated with a year’s worth of rain in the region. Many refugees are now taking shelter in the Toyota Center, which holds 18,000 people.
The initial reaction by the NFL was to move the scheduled game. The Cowboys play across the state in Dallas, and the team offered to host the contest. This was the plan for several days until the league opted to simply cancel the game. This decision came after several of the Texans players voiced their desire to get home to their families. The players had been unable to return to Houston following their weekend game in New Orleans. The last preseason contest can be canceled without impacting the league schedule and standings. Helping these players get home is the most important action the league can take.
Many relief efforts are in place for the residents of Houston. The Texans owner, Bob McNair, immediately pledged to donate $1 million. The NFL Foundation agreed to match this donation and pledge $1 million to the American Red Cross. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft also pledged $1 million. Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander initially stated he would donate $4 million, but has since raised that goal to $10 million.
One of the most inspiring stories coming out of these events surrounds Texans Defensive End, J.J. Watt. Watt is immensely popular. In his six seasons, he has made the Pro Bowl four times and has been named Defensive Player of the Year three times. Early in the week, Watt took to the internet, creating a YouCaring campaign with the goal of raising $100,000. The campaign raised more than that overnight. Watt raised the goal to $200,000. That target was hit later in that day. $500,000. Hit. $1 million. Hit. $5 million. Hit.
On Wednesday, Watt raised the target again. Now, the goal is $10 million in donations. Given the momentum of the fundraising, it’s likely this target will also be met. Those interested in donating can do so at this page.
A note on donations: When donating to any nonprofit, check with your employer. Many companies have donation matching programs for both money and often for time. Companies like Exxon, General Electric, Cisco, and CarMax will match employee donations to certain nonprofit organizations. Many companies also donate to organizations in conjunction with employees’ volunteer hours. These “dollars for doers” efforts are another way for individuals to submit for corporate donations to efforts they champion. (Note: some of these programs have limitations in the amount of time or money the company will match, so be certain to review the program guidelines with your employer.)
If you are interested in donating money, time, or even blood, the good folks at NPR have compiled a list of organizations working toward disaster relief in Houston. Any and all efforts are appreciated by those affected by this event.