With the Texas coast now under a hurricane watch as Hurricane Ike moves through the Gulf of Mexico, speculation abounds as to how the storm will affect the Texans' home opener scheduled for Sunday at 3:15 p.m. CST against the Baltimore Ravens.
Expected to make landfall on the Texas coast sometime Friday night through early Saturday morning, Ike is currently a Category 2 storm with winds up to 100 mph. The storm is currently located about 720 miles east of Brownsville, Texas, moving northwest at 8 mph, and is expected to strengthen and develop into a major hurricane within the next day or two. It recently turned slightly north, moving its projected landfall closer toward Houston.
Questions have been raised by the media and fans as to whether the game will move to another city, another time or another day (ie, Monday night).
Here are selected post-practice quotes from the Texans, recorded before Ike turned north this afternoon, about the threat of the storm:
Owner Bob McNair
(on the team's plan for Hurricane Ike) "If y'all can tell us where it's going to come ashore and when, we'll tell you what the plan is. But we don't know that. The most likely thing is it will go somewhere else rather than come right here. The probability is it will go somewhere else. We have no way of knowing. They have options. Our people work on it with the league. And as soon as we get a better fix on where it might come ashore and when, then we can speak more intelligently as to what we might do. Right now, we are playing here Sunday afternoon."
(on if there is a deadline for that decision) "I'm sure there is but I can't tell you exactly when that might be. It's just one of those things that right now, no one has an answer because no one knows what the facts will be."
(on how critical it is to make the right decision) "We want to do something that makes sense for our team and for our fans. The thing that makes the most sense is to play here. So, we will play here unless we are forced to do something else."
Head coach Gary Kubiak
(on anything new on the weather situation) "No, the bottom line is we are still monitoring the situation along with the league and expecting to play here and for everything to be OK. Now, I'm sure that could change any time but that answer is between (general manager) Rick (Smith) and the league. We're preparing as if (the game) is going to be here and everything is going to be OK.
(on if there is a "Plan B" in place) "I know they are talking about a 'Plan B.' To sit and here say what that is, I'm not really sure. But I know it's something they have to talk about in case they get to the point where they think we have to do something. But right now, the plan is to be here."
C Chris Myers (a native of Miami)
(on the potential hurricane threat) "Those are all just distractions. I was born and raised in Miami, so I'm used to all of those hurricane distractions. We've just got to go in there and practice day-to-day, and if something comes through, we'll work with it…
"You don't even worry about the hurricane. Once you get on the practice field, you're not thinking about hurricanes. You're not thinking about anything. You're just going out there and practicing and doing what you know. As of now, we're just going out there and focusing on Baltimore."
It has been speculated that, if the game is held in Houston as scheduled, the Baltimore Ravens may have to fly in on Friday instead of Saturday to avoid the storm.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh addressed that speculation on Wednesday when speaking with the Houston media:
(on possibly having to arrive in Houston on Friday) "We've got guys working on that. Our team president, Dick Cass, is working with the Texans and with the league. Our travel people are obviously working hard on that. As a football team, we're practicing and preparing for a really good Houston Texans club. Whenever they tell us we've got to get on the plane and travel and wherever we have to go, then that's what we'll do."
(on how he keeps his players from talking about the hurricane and focusing on the game) "We've got a tough opponent. That's hurricane enough to get ready for. So, I'm pretty sure our guys are focused on that."