FRISCO, Texas – On the surface level, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans are preparing to play their preseason finale on Thursday night.
Both teams practiced on Tuesday with the end of their preseason in mind. But the very fact that the Texans were once again the Cowboys' guests at Ford Center, using the locker rooms, practice fields and weight room at The Star, was a testament to the more important issues of the week – the flooding and widespread damage that continues to affect Houston and the Gulf Coast as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
"Well, obviously, a challenging situation for everyone," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "The people down in Houston are going through a very difficult time."
Efforts to help storm victims are ongoing, in southern Texas and across the country. Despite preparations to play a relocated preseason game at AT&T Stadium on Thursday nights, those efforts have been seen in Frisco.
The Cowboys have announced efforts of their own, with team owner/general manager Jerry Jones making a $100,000 pledge to The Salvation Army to help with relief efforts on Tuesday. The organization also held a telethon with former players and current cheerleaders to raise donations.
But that was just part of it. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has seen his own fundraising efforts skyrocket, as the All-Pro has already raised more than $3 million – and counting – for his own relief cause after just two days.
"I realize that money is not easy to come by, and so whatever people are donating – however generous they're being – it's unbelievable," Watt said. "We started out trying to raise $200,000 for this, and we're over $3.5 million."
As of Tuesday evening, Watt's efforts had seen roughly 27,000 donors, ranging from all different sizes. For the thousands of smaller donations, there have also been sizable donations from the likes of Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul and Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk.
"To get a call a little bit ago from Amy Adams Strunk from the Titans and to see them pledge $1 million – I mean, that's remarkable," Watt said. "From a team in our division, one of our rivals, willing to go above and beyond football, go above and beyond anything and donate a million dollars. It's incredible, and it just speaks to humanity."
That's been a unifying theme so far this week. Cowboys safety Kavon Frazier organized an emergency water drive on Tuesday. The NFL Foundation, with Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones Anderson serving as its chairperson, matched the Texans' $1 million donation to flood relief.
At this point, the game itself will be an opportunity to contribute to the cause. The Cowboys and Texans announced Thursday that all proceeds from the game will go toward storm relief efforts.
"In my life and in my experience, when these kinds of things happy you typically see the best in people," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "They respond the right way and communities come together. People rally around those who are having the most difficult time. Again, you used the right word: It's opportunity. It's opportunity for all of us to come together and try to help the community of Houston and all the people who are going through such difficult times right now."