FANS IN THE STANDS

Here's what the gameday experience will look like this season for Texans fans

Fans can finally attend Texans games in person! Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

The Houston Texans will have 13,300 real-life human fans in the stands - about 20-percent of NRG Stadium's usual capacity – when they tackle the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday.

The decision to allow a limited number of fans in the stadium was reached by city, county and state officials with input from the National Football League.

"The health and safety of our fans, our staff, our team and our community have been and will remain our priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," Texans president Jamey Rootes said in a statement.

"We look forward to welcoming our home-field advantage back and resuming our cherished Texans game day traditions. We have been working tirelessly to make changes and implement protocols at NRG Stadium to ensure a safe environment."

Here are the nuts and bolts of the seven Texans home games remaining on the schedule:

Season ticket holders who did not defer for the 2020 season will have first crack at purchasing tickets. If any tickets are left over, they will go on sale at noon today (Tuesday) at Ticketmaster.com. No tickets will be sold at the NRG Stadium box office.

There will be no tailgating permitted in NRG Stadium parking lots during the 2020 season.

Fans will be instructed to stand at least six feet apart from the time they park their cars to when they take their seats inside the stadium. Fans must stand six feet apart, even when they visit concession stands and restrooms.

Important: all fans, 10 years and older, must wear a face mask at all times, except when they are eating or drinking. A full array of concession stands will be open, including Ronnie Killen's world-famous barbecue ribs and sandwiches. Chris Shepherd's Underbelly Hospitality will offer bacon sausage hot dogs with pimento cheese, tater tot casserole and wagyu nachos.

There will be 475 hand sanitizing stations throughout the stadium, and frequent mentions on the scoreboard to use them.

Concessions will be payable by credit or debit card only. All purchases will be handled by cashless transaction.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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