It's been an emotional week for Andre Hal, one that began with devastating loss and ended with exhilarating joy.
On Sunday at Jacksonville, Andre Hal played his first game since overcoming cancer and also the first game since losing his father, Andre Hal Sr.
"During pregame warmup, just looked up and thanked God and thanked my dad," Hal said. "He passed last Tuesday and I know he wanted me back on that field so just to get back on the field for him, it was great."
Hal Sr., who lived in Port Allen, suffered a heart attack and passed away Tuesday. One day later, the Texans veteran safety returned to practice off the Non-Football Illness list. The Texans activated him on Saturday and he made his 2018 debut just five months after his Hodgkin's Lymphoma diagnosis.
"It means a lot," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "I mean, here's a guy who came back from cancer. We announced it to the team that we had elevated him to the 53. There was a great ovation for him in the team meeting room last night here. Means a lot."
After Hal returned to practice, the team had 21 days to activate him to the roster, Hal, diagnosed in May, announced on Sept. 26 that he was in remission. Throughout his treatment in Houston, Hal continued to work out with the team's trainers and remained optimistic about a possible return this season.
"He had been working out, he had been staying in shape working with (director of sports performance) Luke (Richesson) and his crew and we felt good about his ability to be able to be ready to play," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "And then he practiced a few days this week, felt good about where he was at. You give him a lot of credit. He's stayed in great shape which a lot of guys don't do."
Many of Hal's teammates did not even know the extent of Hal's emotional week, which included the loss of his father, because of his positive attitude and his work ethic.
"It's unbelievable," J.J. Watt said. "He's been an inspiration ever since the day he found out. The thing about Dre is that he'll never let you know when anything is wrong. He's always got a positive attitude. He's always got an incredibly driven mindset. I told him he's one of my favorite teammates I've ever played with. Just comes to work every single day with a smile on his face and ready to work."
Hal recorded a solo tackle and started in Sunday's 20-7 win against the Jaguars. Despite the loss of his father, Hal's overwhelming emotion was pure joy following his return.
"It was great to be back," Hal said. "Felt great. It's a blessing, man."
The Texans are prepped and ready to take on the Jaguars.