The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ match-up with the Miami Dolphins has been postponed, causing both teams to lose their bye in week eleven.
First and foremost, as I said earlier this week, the safety of those in the path of Hurricane Irma is number one on the priority list. Period. And there isn’t a close second. Football is entertainment for us while the career of those we watch. This storm appears – as of now – to be terrifying. There is a water shortage, a gas shortage, and people are preparing for the worst. It’s most vital that people that are able to to evacuate and get out of the way of the storm as soon and as safely as possible. All that said, there is still the aspect of the Buccaneers losing their week one game and where to go from here.
The NFL announced its decision to postpone the game with the Dolphins until the week eleven bye, which both teams coincidentally had. Much to the dismay of many people – myself included – both teams will now play sixteen consecutive weeks putting them not only at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the league, but making these players more susceptible to injuries as their bodies won’t get the rest other players across the league do.
Now, you ask yourself, what other options were there? I understand that players have families to worry about and get to safety. Again, that trumps all in regards to this weekend. However, given the circumstances and the awareness of what is coming and a pretty good approximation as to when, there were other options that could have taken place.
The game could have been bumped up to Thursday or Friday, still giving the players time to get their families accommodated elsewhere as well as get themselves and the television and radio crews away before the storm hit. There are 18 stadiums not being used Sunday. Eliminate those in Florida and you still have fifteen available venues for the game. When Katrina struck, the Saints were the home team in the Meadowlands… against the Giants. Not exactly fair, but the NFL made sure the game was played when it was supposed to be.
This is my main gripe with the NFL’s handling of the situation: it’s about money. This is purely my opinion and speculation, but it all boils down to the almighty profit margin. The Buccaneers and Dolphins don’t exactly have the largest fan bases. Any relocating would have meant preseason type attendance at best.
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Less money in the pockets of the NFL.
Ask yourself this – if these teams didn’t have the same bye week, what would’ve happened then? The NFL would have found a way to play the game on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, or even Monday to make sure it was played. They wouldn’t cancel it outright. Every team has to play sixteen games, right?
Then ask yourself this – if the teams involved included any of the following: Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders – would they have relocated to a neutral site to ensure it was played. I can say with almost certainty, yes. Why? Well, what do all those teams have in common? They have large, nationwide fan bases that would have sold tickets no matter where they played. Take a look at the NFL Ticket Exchange or StubHub or Seat Geek and see which teams tickets are the highest prices. There’s a demand and the NFL could’ve cashed in.
The NFL wants to preach player safety until they’re blue in the face. They want to change the rules of the game to make it safer. They want to ensure these players bodies aren’t deteriorating at 45 years old. None of that matters if it affects their bottom line, though. They ignore concussion issues, sweeping it under the rug and hoping it will go away.
I’m all for the game being safer. I want it to be safer. With children of my own now involved in youth football, the consequences can be brutal and life long. But don’t sit there and feed us “player safety” rhetoric then force two teams to play sixteen consecutive weeks without a break, knowing what their bodies go through, and then tell us that player safety is your number one concern. That’s a lie. Profit margins are your number one concern, player safety be damned.
This could have been handled better. This could have had a different outcome. I can’t stress enough that the players being able to get their families to safe locations, the fans who were going to be in attendance Sunday getting to safer locations is pivotal. They are doing that. You just can’t help but think that wasn’t the driving force in all this. It just doesn’t add up. In the end, using the bye week was a cop out and is a disservice to the players, regardless if there was a precedent for it. You know what else there was a precedent for? Relocation on short notice.
But hey…that involved the Giants. A large fan base, nationwide, that lines the pockets of the NFL. Not the lowly Florida teams. So yes, it sucks that they’re both losing their bye weeks. What sucks more is the hypocrisy of the NFL.