Hurricane Irma continues to create uncertainty with the Dolphins season opener against Tampa Bay. The NFL said in a statement Tuesday the game won’t be played at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium, as originally scheduled.
There remains a chance the game could be played at another location or on Nov. 19, the bye week for both teams.
“Due to the potential impact of Hurricane Irma on South Florida,” the NFL said, “the Miami Dolphins home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, originally scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Hard Rock Stadium, will not be played in Miami on Sunday.
“In the interest of public safety in light of the current state of emergency, the NFL, in consultation with state and local officials as well as both clubs, has decided that playing an NFL game in South Florida this week is not appropriate.
“The league will continue to examine other options, including playing the game this Sunday at a neutral site or in Miami later this season, and will provide an update on that decision as soon as possible.”
There was a conference call Tuesday morning among officials from the Dolphins, Buccaneers and NFL about whether to change the day, date and/or location of the game.
Cornerback Byron Maxwell, who went through the threat of Hurricane Matthew last year prior to the Tennessee game, said he’s concerned.
“Definitely,” he said. “It’s real. The threat is real, so, yeah, I’m definitely worried about it, where it’s going to be played, how my house is going to stand up to this.
“It’s a lot of things going through my mind right now.”
Maxwell said he last year’s brush with danger was frightening.
“I was stressed,” he said, adding he left his hurricane shutters up for another two months after the threat passes.
“The closer it got I was like, ‘Man, this is real.’ I don’t remember what category it was. I was definitely worried about it. This one right here is a Category 5 at the time and it’s pretty big, so I’m really worried.”
If the game is moved to Nov. 19, the Dolphins would play 16 consecutive weeks without a break or a bye. That’s troubling to some players, who use the bye week to refresh and recover from injuries.
“Sixteen straight?” Landry said when asked about the negative impacts of losing the bye week. “It’s a long season.
Let’s be honest about it, the stretch after our bye week is one of the toughest, if you want to be real about it, it’s probably the toughest in the NFL. That bye week could give us an opportunity to get guys healthy.
“In this league you’re going to get banged up week in and week out, so that bye week for us comes at an appropriate time. To keep it there would be huge, but I know this is an unfortunate situation and it’s out of our hands.”
Linebacker Kiko Alonso agreed with Landry but was a bit more diplomatic.
“Obviously that would be unfavorable,” he said, “but we’re here to play and whenever they say we’re going to play, we’ll be ready.”
If the game is moved to another location the Dolphins would only have six home games this season instead of eight.
They agreed to move their Oct. 1 game against New Orleans to London as to fulfill a requirement for getting Super Bowl LIV in 2020.
Coach Adam Gase, however, doesn’t seem concerned with any of those details.
“Once somebody tells me something,” he said in reference to no decisions being finalized, “I’m not going to waste my time speculating on anything. We’re going to keep preparing like we’re playing Sunday, where and when we really don’t care.”
Still, players are nervous and concerned about Hurricane Irma. Many, such as rookie punter Matt Haack, who hails from Iowa and attended Arizona State, are in the dark about how to behave.
“It’s the first time ever had to deal with this honestly,” he said. “Coming from Iowa and Arizona, we’ve never had to deal with anything like this.
“I’m counting on the Dolphins to tell me what to do to be honest, I’ve never been through anything like this.”
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