Texans’ J.J. Watt Helps Military Families Score The Ultimate Game Day Experience Through the USO

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Attending a Texans game isn’t cheap. From paying for tickets and parking, to making sure the whole family has enough to eat and drink, a trip to watch the Texans play costs the typical family hundreds of dollars. It’s a bill many Houston-area military families can’t foot.

That’s where Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, the Texans All Community Team (TACT) program and USO Houston come in.

Thanks to the TACT program, military families that might not have extra cash for Texans tickets have the opportunity to enjoy a game for free.

Texans players can purchase tickets for a charity of their choice via the TACT program. For the past three years, Watt, whose grandfather served in the Korean War, has chosen USO Houston as his TACT charity, helping to create memorable moments for over 100 military families.

TACT participants from USO Houston watch the Texans run through the tunnel onto the field. USO photo

TACT participants from USO Houston watch the Texans run through the tunnel onto the field. USO photo

“It’s a simple thing for me, but I realize it can have an impact,” Watt said. “It’s a way to reach out and help these people and do something nice for them while we’re in season.

“It’s all because of how appreciative I am for what they’ve done for us and what they continue to do and the sacrifices that they make.”

Troops and their families who win TACT program tickets through a USO Houston raffle enjoy an all-inclusive Texans experience, from receiving commemorative Watt TACT T-shirts to getting to watch the players run through the tunnel onto the field.

“Plus, they get a parking pass and they get a hot dog and Coke,” said USO Houston Programs Manager Anna Rzendzian.

Military families that win the USO Houston raffle are also invited to attend a special pregame tailgate where they can create signs thanking Watt for the chance to watch a game at NRG Stadium. Watt says families will sometimes send him photographs of themselves from the game holding up the signs they made.

The view from the USO Houston pre game tailgate. USO photo

The view from the USO Houston pre game tailgate. USO photo

“Just to see those photos and to see moms and dads with their kids at the games is really special and some of the signs they make are really cool,” Watt said. “One of my favorite signs is ‘The Army sent daddy to Iraq, J.J. sent us to this game.’ So, that was pretty cool.”

Beyond the TACT program, the Texans also donate a variety of tickets to be distributed to Houston-area troops and their families through the USO.

According to Rzendzian, these extra tickets, which are donated by season ticket holders through the Texans’ Cheering Children program, can range from 700-level seats to exclusive private suites. However, as Rzendian notes, the most requested tickets by military families are still the TACT seats donated by Watt.

“It’s interesting to see how many people will forgo the club seats because they want tickets that were bought by J.J. Watt. And those tickets are actually in the nosebleed section,” she said. “But they don’t care. Because J.J. Watt bought them those tickets. It’s really hilarious.”

Watt, a 2012 USO tour veteran, hopes that giving military families — especially ones with children — the chance to attend a Texans game will brighten their day.

“Kids who have a parent overseas are going through something that is difficult, you know,” Watt said. “Your parents are overseas fighting for our country, so I feel like if we can put a smile on your face for a few hours on Sunday, I bring them to a game, I think that’s a pretty cool experience.”

NFL Players Spend Their Off-Season in Southwest Asia

NFL players (L) Mario Williams-Houston Texans, Joe Thomas-Cleveland Browns (L-next to Williams), Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys (center) and Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers (kneeling next to Witten) pose with the entire crew supporting the defensive missile system, March 3, 2010. On an eight-day, nine-base USO tour the four players are on a mission to visit with troops, sign autographs and boost morale. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

NFL player Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys poses for a photo with Cowboys fans ontop of a Humvee proudly displaying a Cowboys flag, which Witten later autographed, March 3, 2010. Traveling on his first USO tour Witten is joined by fellow NFL All Stars Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers, Joe Thomas-Cleveland Browns and Mario Williams-Houston Texans. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

NFL players (L-R) Joe Thomas-Cleveland Browns, Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys (background-green), Mario Williams-Houston Texans (R-Center), and Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers (R) sign autographs for the crew of a C-17 cargo aircraft at the airbase, March 3, 2010. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

Mario Williams-Houston Texans gets a bird's eye view from the pilots seat of a C-17 while Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys talks shop with Captain Paul Tucker. The NFL players are traveling on their first USO tour and are joined by fellow NFL All Stars Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers and Joe Thomas- Cleveland Browns, March 3, 2010. Traveling to nine bases in eight days the players will visit with troops, sign autographs and extend their thanks. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

NFL players Joe Thomas-Cleveland Brown (C) and Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys (R) get a tour of an RC 135/JSTARS aircraft from a service member, March 3, 2010. The two Pro Bowl players are joined by fellow Pro Bowlers Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers and Mario Williams-Houston Texans on their first USO tour, traveling to nine bases in eight days the players will sign autographs, participate in meet and greets and extend their grattitude to troops. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

NFL players Jason Witten-Dallas Cowbys (L), Joe Thomas-Cleveland Browns (L-middle), Mario Williams-Houston Texans (R-middle) and Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers (R) pose for a group shot with the ground and air crew of a RC 135/JSTARS aircraft behind them, March 3, 2010. The four NFL All Stars are taking part in their first USO tour, traveling to nine bases in eight days to boost morale, sign autographs and extend their thanks to America's troops. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

NFL players Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers (L-middle), Joe Thomas-Cleveland Browns(Left), Mario Williams-Houston Texans (R-middle) and Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys (R) peer out the cargo door of a KC135-Aerial Tanker as they touchdown in the Persian Gulf, March 3, 2010. The NFL 2010 All Star players are traveling on their first USO tour, the players will trek to nine bases in eight days to boost morale and bring a touch of home to troops. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)

NFL players Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers (L), Mario Williams-Houston Texans (L-middle), Joe Thomas-Cleveland Brown (R-middle) and Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys (R) pose for a photo with the crew of the B-i Bombers, March 3, 2010. The 2010 NFL All Stars are traveling on an eight-day, nine-base trek through the Persian Gulf on a mission to boost morale and extend their thanks to America's troops. (USO Photo by Dave Gatley)