Texans return to Houston after Thursday night preseason game canceled

HOUSTON – The Houston Texans haven’t been in Houston since early morning on the Wednesday prior to their Aug. 26 game against the Saints.

They spent three days in New Orleans for a joint practice with the Saints, followed by their third preseason game on Saturday night.

The Texans backed that up with an unexpected trip to Dallas, followed by shifting their final preseason game to Arlington, which would have kept them out of Houston for nine days.

Nine days during one of the worst flooding disasters the world has seen.

But with the NFL’s decision to cancel Thursday’s preseason finale, the team quickly changed plans.

By early Wednesday afternoon, the Texans had piled onto the team buses for the drive back to Houston to see their families, but also devastation.

“I think it’s the right decision,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said. “I think most everyone here is concerned about their family, their friends and the city of Houston. I think it’s extremely important we all get home as quickly as we can.”

WATCH: Texans arrive in Houston after Hurricane Harvey

Earlier in the week, Watt began a fundraising campaign with an initial goal of raising $200,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief.

Donations have been pouring in, compelling Watt to continue to push for new goals of $1 million, $2 million, $5 million and now, $10 million.

WATCH: J.J. Watt and Rick Smith discuss Houston relief, Texans game cancellation

“My team has been great, everybody is asking how they can help, what they can do. I think we are just excited to get back to our city and help our city rebuild,” Watt said. “I’ve already begun the process of filling the trucks as we speak. The goal is to get those trucks down there this weekend, the goal is Sunday to hand out those supplies. It’s been unbelievably motivational to see firefighters, policeman, every day citizens out in boats, helping each other out, lifting each up. It’s an unbelievable thing to witness what happens in a time of crisis. The most difficult times bring out the best in humanity.”

Texans general manager Rick Smith also noted the importance of heading back to Houston without having to wait until after Thursday night’s game.

“Houston is hurting and the entire region is hurting. There is so much devastation and we want to be a part of the recovery process. There’s nothing more important than our families and this was the right decision and that’s why it was made,” Smith said. "Houston is strong and I’ve been there now over a decade. We are a part of the fabric of the community, My wife has been at the George R. Brown with my kids, the last two days volunteering and taking care of some the people at the shelters. This entire organization, starting with the McNair family has also a part of our community and we’ll continue to do that."

The last preseason game for the Houston Texans will be canceled.

Thursday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys was originally scheduled to be played at NRG Stadium, then was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington due to the catastrophic flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey.

WATCH: Texans head back to Houston

The Texans released a statement that read:

“The Houston Texans have made the decision to travel back to Houston after local authorities have now found a safe route for the team to drive home today. The fourth preseason game scheduled for Thursday night in Dallas will be cancelled. At this time, the priority of our organization is getting our players, coaches and staff back home to be reunited with their families, many of whom have been evacuated from their homes and are currently sheltered. The team feels it is imperative to get back home to help the Houston community recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

Robert, Janice, Cal and Hannah McNair will make a donation equal to the money that would have been generated from ticket sales from Thursday’s preseason game in Arlington to recovery and relief efforts.

Fans that have purchased tickets to Thursday’s game will have the option to donate the money to relief efforts or request a refund through Ticketmaster. Further details regarding refunds will be announced later today.

The Houston Texans sincerely appreciate the support shown by the Dallas Cowboys and our NFL family during this difficult time.”

The Texans are 1-2 in the preseason. They open the season at home Sept. 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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