With the devastation of flooding from Hurricane and now, Tropical Storm Harvey in Southeast Texas continuing, sports is obviously not a real priority. The Houston Texans already have their final preseason game displaced to Arlington to play the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium Thursday night. Now, their regular season home opener September 10th with the Jaguars is in real doubt, too.
But, the obvious seemingly quick solution of “just switch this home game to Jacksonville and have the Jags come to Houston in November,” isn’t so simple and when you examine closely, isn’t even likely.
Let’s go over it:
Without a doubt, the devastation in Houston isn’t going to be rectified by a week from Sunday. In fact, it will likely be a “state of emergency” for the next couple of weeks or longer. There are hundreds of thousands in the Houston area who are currently displaced and it will be later this week or weekend before many of them return to their homes, etc. to see the flood devastation first hand. Many will be without power throughout this weekend and probably a lot longer.
This doesn’t take into account all of the police/security personnel, EMS/Paramedics, stadium workers, etc. that it takes to put an NFL home game on, most of whom won’t be available because they are needed elsewhere or are greatly affected by the flooding and damage themselves.
In short, it’s near impossible that the Texans would be able to host a home game on September 10th.
And, this doesn’t take into account the awful “optics” for the NFL and the team of trying ramrod the game and having say 17,000 or fewer people hypothetically be there against Jacksonville. And, have backlash about why police and first responders, etc. are at a home football game, while the crisis and devastation are still on going?
So, what to do?
Well, back to our headline. The “swap” with the Jaguars is remote at best for one clear reason: Everbank Field isn’t going to be ready to host an NFL game on September 10th.
Because the Jaguars were scheduled to be gone for week one, Shad Khan and organizers did a deal to have Canadian 80’s rock star, Bryan Adams, play a concert in the stadium Saturday night September 9th. That concert has been promoted for months and isn’t being moved or canceled on a week’s notice.
This means that the stadium and most importantly, the field, will be occupied for at least 72 hours prior to Saturday night September 9th. And, it’s 100% certainty that the turf, with massive concert stage and accompanying equipment sitting on it, will be in rough shape for days after. And this doesn’t take into account the thousands of seats and concert goers who will be all over the field all Saturday night, too.
So, this means trying to play 12-18 hours after the concert on that turf is a virtual impossibility.
In the past, the NFL has considered and even played a second game on Monday Night Football. However, week one, they already have a doubleheader with Saints vs. Vikings and Chargers vs. Broncos scheduled. It is very unlikely that they would let a Texans vs. Jaguars game be a third game on Monday. And, it presupposes that the field would be playable the next night, too.
So, we at F.F.I. see it like this:
The NFL will likely move the game from Houston for the reasons above.
Do the Texans stay in Dallas and possibly play the Jaguars at Jerry’s World for a second straight game there on September 10th? Well, the problem is: the Cowboys are playing on that Sunday night at home. Would the NFL consider letting Houston and Jacksonville play on the field turf at noon local time before clearing the stadium and having the Cowboys and Giants kickoff just after 7 p.m.? Unlikely, but, possible.
Also possible, is that the game could be played in San Antonio’s Alamo Dome 90 minutes to the West of Houston. This is a strong alternative.
Or, as the league has done in the past, maybe there’s another NFL Stadium that available in the region. They did this most recently two years ago when a snow storm in Buffalo forced the Bills and Jets to both scramble to and play in Detroit.
The NFL could entertain the slight possibility that it would be the Jags home game, but played in either Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, which has no NFL tenant or Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, home of the Bucs, while they play in Miami week one.
However, Jacksonville is likely to strongly object to losing their home game, out of their stadium completely, when this is Houston’s and the league’s issue.
While the NFL doesn’t have to make the decision on where to play for several days, just don’t expect it to be in Houston and the home game “flip” with the Jags is remote, as well.