The NFL announced Wednesday that the regular season opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins on Sunday has been postponed, pushed to the Week 11 bye week that both teams share, because of the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma in South Florida.
The NFL chose to move the date of the game rather than relocate the teams to a neutral field. Among the locales considered were Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The game will be played at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on Nov. 19. By moving it to the teams’ shared bye week, both teams will now have to play 16 straight weeks to end the season. The Dolphins will have a particularly strenuous schedule to start the season and won’t return home until Week 5.
Dolphins Coach Adam Gase canceled Wednesday’s practice:
With the schedule change, Tampa Bay will now play three of its first four games at home, starting Sept. 17 against the Bears. One other takeaway for the Bucs is that Doug Martin, the team’s starting running back who is suspended for the first three games of the season over a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy, will now make his debut on Oct. 5 against the Patriots instead of a week earlier.
The NFL had announced Tuesday that, after consulting with state and local officials as well as with both teams, the game would not be played in South Florida “in the interest of public safety in light of the continuing state of emergency.”
Down a level, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported Wednesday that the University of Miami’s football game on Saturday at Arkansas State has been canceled and will not be made up because the teams do not have mutually available open dates. Reynolds says the decision was made out of uncertainty about how the team would return to Miami after Irma had passed.
Florida State announced Wednesday that the Seminoles’ football game against Louisiana-Monroe will be played Saturday at noon instead of at 7 p.m. Florida announced a similar plan with its 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Northern Colorado moved to noon.
The University of Central Florida announced Tuesday that it was moving its football team’s game against Memphis from Saturday night to Friday evening in Orlando. Florida International’s home opener against Alcorn State on Saturday has been postponed, and it’s not yet known whether the game will be made up.