Postponing game the right call

The Baltimore Sun

As soon as you woke up yesterday morning, turned on the TV and saw the reports from Texas, you knew there wasn't going to be any NFL game played in Houston this week. NFL officials had to know it then, too.

Officials and members of the Houston Texans? It would be a major upset if at that point they were even thinking about the next time they would play football.

So it was just a matter of time before the game against the Ravens was postponed. And give the NFL a big hand for figuring out how to not move the game to another city. It will be played in Houston, and as long as Reliant Stadium is safe to inhabit two months from now - as well as the streets and the rest of the buildings - that's exactly where it should have been played. Anything else would have been unfair to Houston and the Texans.

Shame on all you fans who kept pushing the option of playing the game here in Baltimore as the best solution. You weren't exactly being selfish (not completely), just shortsighted. It is pretty hard to imagine your being so big-hearted about flip-flopping sites if this was the city that was flooded, this stadium damaged, this infrastructure wrecked and this psyche hurting.

Are you so sure you'd rather just give up one of those eight precious home games? Not one of 81 in baseball, an issue the Astros might have to ponder if they have problems rescheduling games they've postponed. One of the eight, especially one that might give the area a little emotional uplift, even if it's eight weeks or so later than scheduled. This, after all, is just an impromptu bye week. There's still plenty of football to watch today. To demand that the game come here is really greed not totally hidden by altruism.

The NFL's juggling of the schedule to accommodate the two teams and the city was more deft than the league usually shows itself to be. It botched the job three years ago, when it moved the Saints-Giants game from Katrina-wrecked New Orleans to Giants Stadium. And back then, they had more time and more options. They took the convenient shortcut, and in hindsight it didn't seem to benefit anybody and just created more hurt feelings.

The NFL worked this out in about four days, max. In that span, it bought itself time by initially bumping the game back a day, then kept the idea of moving the game to a neutral, distant site (such as Atlanta) as a next-to-last resort - and Baltimore as a last resort. Helmet stickers for everybody.

Of course, let's not forget that getting the team somewhere physically was sure to be a chore, and one that no one would have the stomach for, not after seeing the scary sights and sounds from Houston and the other ravaged areas.

Certainly anyone who has friends in that part of Texas knows the chaos down there now. Even if Reliant Stadium had somehow not gotten a scuff mark, flights weren't coming in or out, buildings were long evacuated, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other organizations were scurrying about, and one downtown hotel (at which a certain out-of-town columnist was going to stay) had been calling guests since Friday night, telling them to think about canceling their reservations.

Reached yesterday morning at 9 local time, a desk attendant at that hotel said that it had just had power restored about 20 minutes earlier, but that it was still out in wide areas downtown. It would be awhile, she said, before anyone in town could really assess the damage, "so you can just check back later, if they let flights start coming in again."

No need anymore. But thanks. Good luck. And see you in November.

Listen to David Steele on Fridays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM)

points after

* Maryland 35, California 27. From now on, the giant photo next to my columns will be of Nostradamus.

* The Norwegian physicist who calculated Usain Bolt's Olympic 100-meter time at 9.55 seconds had he run it full-tilt - when he came to his conclusion, did he celebrate? Shout, wave his arms, jump up and down with joy? Or did he act as if he had made calculations like that before, so he wouldn't disrespect his fellow Norwegian theoretical Olympic race-calculating physicists?

* His next experiment: Exactly how much fun have he and people like him (Bob Costas, Pacific-10 football officials) extracted from sports lately?

* Terps basketball legend Tom McMillen wrote in to say that he, too, saw that 1966 Texas-Western Kentucky game in person at Cole Field House - and later played for winning coach Don Haskins on the 1972 Olympic team (which was robbed of gold).


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