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It had to be done. For so many reasons there was no choice but to postpone Sunday’s season opener against Tampa Bay. It was right for the two teams and their families. It was right for South Florida community.
The indoor practice “bubble” is deflated. Prayers for South Florida. Stay safe… pic.twitter.com/zYcLXjmMII
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) September 6, 2017
Yes, it was disappointing. But it was necessary. We’re talking about something far more significant than a football game on a Sunday afternoon. We’re talking about safety and protecting lives and making sure that the emergency response people who watch over us can do their jobs.
Sure, nobody likes to play 16 straight weeks. Nobody wants a bye week on the second Sunday of September when the rest of the league is immersed in season openers. But nobody wanted Hurricane Irma to show her menacing face in these parts either.
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) September 7, 2017
Losing a bye week on the third Sunday of November seems inconsequential in the big scheme of things. If there was another avenue that made sense, don’t you think it would have been pursued? But this was the safe route, the smart route, and isn’t that most paramount at a time like this?
The Bucs and Dolphins ironically had the same bye Sunday (Nov. 19th) so there are no issues about preparation and timing. Under the new scenario, the game against Tampa Bay will be sandwiched between road games at Carolina and New England. Instead of three home games in the final seven games, the Dolphins will now have four. We’ve got to see how the season plays out before we can grasp the significance of any of this.
I know there was consideration for a while to play the game this weekend at a neutral site. But Dolphins’ fans deserved this home game especially with one of their home games this season already moved to London to play the Saints. That had to be part of the thinking.
So really every alternative had its flaws. You move the game up to Thursday or Friday, for instance, and it would have taxed the emergency responders who, because of Irma, are being switched to 12-hour shifts and have plenty to focus on other than a football game.
The players showed up Wednesday as scheduled, but never took the practice field. Soon after the NFL made the official announcement, Adam Gase let his players go their separate ways. It had to be such a strange feeling. One day you are talking game plans and stopping Jameis Winston and guarding Mike Evans and the next day that game is now more than two months away and instead you are consumed with thoughts about where to go and what to do and protecting those you care about most. For many of these players, this is their first experience with a Hurricane, let alone one this powerful.
“All we can do,” said linebacker Mike Hull, “is hope for the best.”
I realize the players and coaches aren’t thrilled to play 16 games in a row without a break, and you can certainly relate to their thinking. But they also understand the gravity of this situation and how insignificant the timing of a bye week seems when you’re talking about protecting lives and surviving a storm of this magnitude.
Besides, from 1978 through 1989, there was a 16-game schedule and no bye week for every NFL team so it isn’t as if teams haven’t gone through this before.
But that’s for later. Today, tomorrow, this weekend is about something far more important than football. It’s about staying safe. It’s about protecting your family. It’s about community and neighbors and making sure you have everything you need to get through this challenging time.
Yes, this much anticipated Dolphins’ season must now wait another week to get going. We can only hope that’s the greatest price we have to pay.