I made my way into the stadium and up to the new radio booth. We've moved the radio broadcast location because several booths in the traditional area are needed so the coaches who have the bird's eye view can spread out for social distancing.
We're actually in a pretty large area. A sort of open air private seating perch usually reserved for players on IR to catch the game. The view is good and I'm not complaining. Andre Ware said to me "they might have trouble getting us out of here."
John Harris and I did our weeknight Sports Radio 610 show Texans All Access from the new position. The team was already in warm-ups when the open rolled. The first words out of my mouth were the same ones Ned Beatty delivered as Rudy's father when he first saw Notre Dame stadium. "This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen."
I was joking, of course. Yet not so much. It's been a while. The last time we were at NRG for a game was in the come-from-behind thriller against Buffalo. After five months of virtual lockdown, the stadium was an oasis. It felt like a carnival for my eyes. It was chicken soup for the football soul.
No fans, of course. But the noise was piped in by stadium production guru Gavin Gehrt and his crew. The music pumped and it felt like a game was about to be played.
Once the action got rolling, Deshaun Watson spun some beautiful completions and the defense had some shinning moments, too. P.A. announcer David Brady was doing his "another Texans First Down" thing and the video board lit up the night.
The Texans even simulated half time. The whole evening was about getting some work in and getting used to a game routine. The second half saw the music turned down and no more p.a. It was all about the practice at that point.
The players met afterwards to talk about their social justice plans. Their work completed, it was time to focus on how they could help and be heard.
My biggest takeaway was that despite not having fans in most of the stadiums, the NFL will pull this off. There's no substitute for 71,000 full throated supporters. But these games will entertain and the level of play will be as good as ever.
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