<
>

If Thursday game played, J.J. Watt wants fundraising to be part of it

FRISCO, Texas -- If the NFL decides to play Thursday's preseason game between the Texans and Dallas Cowboys, J.J. Watt says the contest should involve fundraising to help Houston residents affected by the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey.

The Texans are practicing in Frisco this week after being unable to return to Houston after Saturday night's preseason game in New Orleans. The NFL is considering moving Thursday's game, scheduled to be played at NRG Stadium, possibly to the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium.

"... If there is something played this week, I think we should definitely involve some sort of fundraiser, some sort of way to benefit the people back home. Because like I said, this is a much bigger issue than just a football game."

J.J. Watt

Watt did not say whether he thought the game should be canceled instead of being moved, but said, "there are much bigger things at hand, absolutely."

"I think that the most important thing right now is the family and friends and the city of Houston back home," Watt said. "Making sure they're safe, making sure they're taken care of.

"And if there is something played this week, I think we should definitely involve some sort of fundraiser, some sort of way to benefit the people back home. Because like I said, this is a much bigger issue than just a football game."

The decision to play the game will be made by the NFL. Texans coach Bill O'Brien said he doesn't have an opinion on whether the game should be canceled, saying it's "way above" his pay grade.

O'Brien and the Texans players reiterated the importance of the safety for those in Houston and that the team is committed to helping the community however they can. Texans owner Bob McNair has pledged a $1 million donation to the United Way of Greater Houston Flood Relief. The NFL Foundation, of which Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Anderson is the chairperson, will match the $1 million donation.

The New England Patriots announced Monday that the Kraft family is offering to match all funds donated to the American Red Cross in support of Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund up to $1 million.

On Sunday, Watt started an online fundraiser for those affected by the flooding. He donated $100,000 himself, and as of Monday afternoon, the campaign reached $500,000 after Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul donated $50,000.

After Paul's donation, Watt raised the goal to $1 million.

"We're just trying to do whatever we can to help from afar," Watt said. "Because we can't get there. We can't help physically, so we're going to try to help raise that money.

"We're not going to wait until it's too late to start. We're going to try to raise that money right now, because we know what's about to happen. We know that once this storm stops there's going to be massive, massive recovery efforts. And we want to be there. We want to be ahead of it so we can really get a jump-start on getting these people back on their feet."

The Cowboys and Texans had conversations during the early parts of the Raiders' game about the team needing to move its operation to Frisco, but Anderson said the need became more urgent as the weather changed. O'Brien said the Cowboys have been "great neighbors."

In addition to the indoor and outdoor practice facilities, the Texans have use of the weight room and dining facilities.

"We opened our doors for the Texans to come this way," Anderson said, "and we'll continue to have them open as long as they need them."

ESPN's Todd Archer contributed to this report.