NFL monitoring Hurricane Ike

As Hurricane Ike takes aim at the Texas Gulf Coast, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday the league has contingencies in place should the storm impact Sunday’s game between the Texans and Ravens at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

Goodell said the NFL is prepared to allow the game to be potentially played as late as Monday. A plan is also in place to postpone the game and make scheduling changes to play it later in the season.

First and foremost, said Goodell, is the priority of public safety in the Houston region.

“We’re tracking the storm just like everybody else, and wishing all the people in the potential region that it’s not as damaging and not as dangerous as they’re predicting,” Goodell said in an interview with NFL.com. “As part of that, we look at the alternatives. How do we continue to operate the league?

“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. 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.”

Sunday’s game between the Texans and Ravens is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET. Goodell said the league would hold off making any determinations about the game until they’ve fully evaluated the situation and government officials in the Houston market can make determinations about the impact on the community.

Published online reports from the AP say authorities in the Houston area and along the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast have ordered hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate Thursday as Ike approached the coast and threatened to grow even stronger.

“The reality is we have contingencies,” said Goodell. “We are prepared for it. We will make that decision at the first practical time.”

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