J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans defensive end and icon for his city, was greeted with a hero’s welcome as he was introduced before his team’s season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Watt entered the NRG Stadium waving the Texas flag to deafening applause.
Watt has raised $30 million for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. He announced the fundraising page with a video on Twitter after Houston’s preseason game against the Saints in late August, with a goal of collecting $200,000. As donations kept pouring in, he raised the goal again and again. The number skyrocketed thanks to almost 200,000 donors.
Watt also worked with his foundation to fill 12 semi-trucks with supplies, which were brought to Houston and distributed in part by Watt and his teammates last week.
Watt also is being honored by the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA will contribute $10,000 to Watt’s foundation for the honor. He becomes a semifinalist for the Byron Whizzer White Award, given annually by the group to recognize charitable efforts of players.
Before the game, according to ESPN, the Texans honored first responders who served during Harvey and held a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the storm’s aftermath.
The Texans, however, lost their opener to the Jaguars 29-7.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.