With Houston still reeling from the devastating after effects of Hurricane Harvey, the status of Sunday’s regular season opener between the Texans and the Jaguars remained in doubt. Some had floated the idea of a date swap, with Sunday’s game played in Jacksonville and the AFC South rematch played Dec. 17 in Houston. Such a plan would have given the city a full month to prepare for the return of professional football, as the Texans aren’t scheduled to play their second home game until Week 4 on Oct. 1.
Jags owner Shahid Khan seemed amenable to it.
“The Jacksonville Jaguars will support whatever scheduling decision the NFL makes,” he said last week. “What’s most important to me and everyone in Jacksonville isn’t where we’ll play the Texans on Week 1, but that the City of Houston and its people recover quickly, safely and successfully.”
On Monday, however, word started to trickle out that the game will be played in Houston, as planned. Jacksonville TV/radio personality Brent Martineau has the news.
“The Jaguars received confirmation from the NFL that Sunday’s game will be played at NRG Stadium against HoustonTexans,” he tweeted.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Sunday that the city is working to regain a sense of normalcy after Harvey, even though parts of Houston are expected to remain flooded for a while and thousands remain stranded at the shelters that have been set up around the area (though the number is decreasing).
“The airport system is up and running. The transit system is up and running. We’ve started picking up heavy debris,” Turner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.
“Let me be very, very clear,” he added. “The city of Houston is open for business.”
But putting on a pro football game involves a massive amount of manpower, both from a public safety perspective and from the sheer number of people who make game day happen at the stadium (ushers, ticket takers, concessions workers and the like). So the city must balance that fact with its need to get things back to normal.
Texans Coach Bill O’Brien, for one, can’t wait to play at NRG Stadium.
“We can’t wait to play in front of this crowd,” he said Thursday, one day after his team had returned to Houston from its temporary home in Dallas. “We know it’s going to be so loud the roof might come off.”