The Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were supposed to open the 2017 NFL season in Miami Sunday, but with Hurricane Irma bearing down on South Florida, the NFL made the decision to postpone the game to November 19. The two teams will attempt to play the rescheduled game in Week 11.
This is far from ideal. Both teams will have to play 16 games in a row to end the season, and hate to lose that late-season bye. Obviously the game cannot go on as scheduled — Hurricane Irma is the largest storm in the Atlantic Ocean in more than a decade — but there seem to be other options.
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long has a suggestion:
Should move the game to a neutral site, sell affordable tickets to benefit hurricane recovery. Am I being naive? https://t.co/SvJZHBPjMl
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 5, 2017
Clearly, moving the game is not an ideal solution. The logistics around a regularly-scheduled NFL game are complicated at best. Relocating a game to a neutral site, far enough away to escape the path of a hurricane, in just five days? Something like that would be borderline miraculous.
However, natural disasters like Hurricane Irma require extraordinary effort from everyone in their path. This storm has the potential to be absolutely devastating, and couldn't come at a worse time. Houston is still under water after Hurricane Harvey, which killed 66 people, displaced more than 30,000, and caused an estimated $190 billion in damage and economic impact.
As it stands today, FEMA's emergency management fund is down to its last $1.01 billion and is on pace to run out of money by Friday. They will need money. The NFL makes money — lots of it.
So reschedule the Dolphins-Bucs game to Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, or Jacksonville — all four teams are on the road in Week 1.
Logistics would be a nightmare, ticket sales would be an issue, and the Dolphins would not only lose out on a home game — but would have to try to focus on a game at the same time their home is ravaged by Hurricane Irma.
But all of those issues pale in comparison to the destruction Hurricane Irma will cause in South Florida. The logistics of moving an NFL game are certainly not tougher than logistics of a disaster relief effort this large. Neutral fans might not buy tickets to this game in normal circumstances, but if the NFL donated proceeds to disaster relief funds they might. And yes, it will be hard for players to focus on the game while Hurricane Irma rolls through, but postponing the game won't postpone the hurricane. They can do something to help.
Maybe it's naive to think this is even possible, but in the face of the Herculean effort put forth by rescue workers, hospital staff, and ordinary citizens of Houston and South Florida, this kind of impossible doesn't seem all that hard at all.