FRISCO, Texans — On Monday morning at the Dallas Cowboys‘ training facility, the Houston Texans had their first practice since they were unable to fly back home after the team’s preseason game in New Orleans.
And while coach Bill O’Brien said the Texans had a good practice, several players noted the challenge of focusing on the field while so much is going on back in Houston.
“We have a job to do and I think that’s got to be the way you go about your business and handle it,” veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. “But it’s hard at the same time to kind of sit there and play football and then think about your family that’s back home when there’s updates going on around the clock about things that are going on back in your hometown.”
The Texans and Cowboys were scheduled to play on Thursday in Houston, but the game is expected to be shifted to AT&T Stadium due to the flooding. Joseph said even when it’s tough, playing in the NFL is still a job, and the players have responsibility to do that job.
“We’re professionals, and if that’s what it calls for, we’ve got to get up and still do our job and go out there and play to the best of our abilities,” Joseph said. “At the end of the day, we’re in the National Football League and they pay us to do a job. And if they call for a game to be on, everyone has to put forth their best effort, and once the game is over, have to go back and take care of our business with the things that are going on off the field.”
Long-snapper Jon Weeks, who has his wife, Amanda, and eight-week-old daughter, Parker, at home, said the ability to take his mind off anything happening off the field when he has to is something he learned as a young athlete.
“It’s definitely tough. But I think that’s something that as little kids we’re taught,” Weeks said. “When you come to this game, you always leave the personal stuff — and back then it’s grades and school and that kind of stuff — you leave that off the field when you come to the football field and you concentrate on what your job is. And I think we’ve all been able to do that.
“Again, granted, they’re not far from our thoughts. We’re thinking of Houston, we’re praying for Houston. We’re praying for everybody. We’re praying and hoping everybody’s safe. But when it’s time to come here and work, we’re all professionals. We come in here and work, and as soon as it’s done, we go back and we start doing whatever we can to help the city.”
And while “nothing is more important than family,” O’Brien said, “at the end of the day, football goes on.”
“Thirty-one other teams are working to get to the same goal we’re working to get to,” O’Brien said. “We’re trying to concentrate on football. We’re preparing for the Dallas game. We’re preparing for football. But we’re making sure that our players have time to be in contact with their families.”