Ravens-Texans game moved to Monday night

OWINGS MILLS -- In a reaction to the destructive threat posed by Hurricane Ike, the NFL moved the Baltimore Ravens' road game against the Houston Texans to Monday night at 8:30. The game was originally scheduled to kick off Sunday at 4:15 p.m., but the league changed the game time after holding a conference call with the Ravens, including team president Dick Cass, and Texans team officials.

The Ravens are tentatively scheduled to fly to Houston late Sunday, moving back their original flight from Saturday. Team spokesman Kevin Byrne acknowledged that further changes to the game or travel schedule could be in the offing depending on the extent of the damage to the city and Reliant Stadium.

"We understand completely why the change had to be made," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We'll adjust our schedules."

Reliant Stadium has a retractable roof and is regarded as sturdy against hurricanes by Houston city officials and architecture experts. However, it's unclear what the impact will be on infrastructure, stadium staff and public safety officials.

The hurricane is expected to hit Texas' Gulf Coast this weekend between Corpus Christi and Houston, and is forecasted by the National Hurricane Center as an unpredictable Category 3 storm on the weather intensity scale. Winds are expected to exceed 111 mph by either late tonight or early Saturday.

Among the alternatives considered were moving the game to a neutral site with the Georgia Dome in Atlanta the most popular option. Moving the game to Baltimore was never a strong possibility due to the backlash throughout the league when the New York Giants received an extra home game in 2005 when they hosted the New Orleans Saints after Hurricane Katrina.

"We're looking at alternatives if the storm is severe enough that it would prevent us from playing, whether that's damage to the stadium, or fans not being able to get to the stadium, or whether, frankly, there's just higher priorities in that community than playing a football game," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement prior to pushing back the game. "We understand our place in the community, and we understand the first priority is public safety.

"We would not do anything to stress emergency workers and law enforcement workers from doing their job."

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was with the San Diego Chargers in 2003 when wildfires caused an October game against the Miami Dolphins to be moved to Monday night at Arizona State.

"Veterans don't last in this business being distracted," Cameron said. "These guys are warriors and we got a lot of those guys here. I can't imagine many things distracting this coaching staff or this football team.

"We all have an understanding that it's a blessing to coach or play in a NFL game. Just tell us when the game is and where to play it and we'll play it."

The game will be televised locally on CBS stations in the primary and secondary markets of the Ravens and the Texans.

Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said he didn't think the change would be a distraction to the players.

"I think it really would affect more the coaches than it would even the players," Ryan said. "The players, once it's game time, regardless of the day, they'll be excited to play.

"I think from a coach's standpoint you would rather stay on track, so you don't lose any preparation time for Cleveland."


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