Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL meeting this morning to discuss Bucs-Dolphins opener

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins may know by noon today whether they will play their season opener as scheduled on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

The NFL is holding a conference call this morning to discuss the possibility of moving the game, cancelling it or playing at scheduled amid the concern posed by Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma grew into a Category 5 storm over night, according to the National Hurricane Center, and his threatening to slam into the northeastern Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

Both the Bucs and Dolphins have expressed concerns about cancelling the game and playing it during their shared bye week in Week 11 but that is one possibility the NFL will consider.

Other possibilities include playing the game earlier than scheduled, possibly on Thursday or Friday in Miami, or moving it to a neutral location out of the path of the storm.

The most popular of those is one that has been presented to both teams: play the game at the scheduled location, Hard Rock Stadium, but do it on Friday night.

This would be in advance of full evacuations in South Florida, if they are happening, and give everyone the chance to monitor and evacuate, if needed after Friday night and before Irma would be in range.

We are told that the Buccaneers are fine with playing Friday and we’ll see if that’s what the NFL and Dolphins, because it’s their home game, choose to do.

If all parties do choose that scenario, it will likely be decided on and publicized later on Tuesday or Wednesday morning at the latest.

There are a lot of  details and logistics that go along with that call, such as do the Bucs come to the Miami area and hotel Thursday, or simply make the trip to Miami on the day of a Friday night game?

Remember, it’s not as simple as snapping your fingers and having a large hotel accommodate your massive travel party for playing the game 40 hours earlier on Friday night.

And, importantly, this includes telling Fox TV when and potentially where else the game is to be televised. With the billions of dollars the networks pay, that is also a priority.

The final scenario that’s also on the table is: play the game at a different location, North of Miami and any evacuations beginning, and possibly, still on Sunday at 1 p.m., as scheduled.

We are told the Dolphins have made it clear they don’t want the game played in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium, as a Buccaneer true home game. So that’s going to be out.

Next, the game could be played at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium downtown on Friday night or depending on the forecast Track of Irma, even on Sunday. Miami has played preseason games there in the recent past. It is available, and it’s easy for both the Bucs and Dolphins to get tom so keep an eye on this option.

Finally, the league and the Dolphins could move the game to another Southeastern NFL city like Atlanta or New Orleans.

In the case of Atlanta, the Falcons are on the road this Sunday at Chicago, but on Sunday afternoon Mercedes Benz Stadium is scheduled to host Atlanta United and FC Dallas in MLS action at 3:30 p.m.

Would the NFL be able to not only be able to help work out the Dolphins and Bucs getting there, but get the MLS and Atlanta United move the soccer game to later that night, for example? Tough to know for sure, but it’s possible.

As for New Orleans, the Superdome is available Sunday afternoon, as the Saints don’t play the Vikings until Monday night. Again, would the NFL make both the Dolphins and Bucs go there to play, when Orlando and Atlanta are closer? Probably not. But, it’s still an option.

The league has precedence of moving games/teams, where needed to play a game.

As recently as November of 2014, they moved a Buffalo Bills Sunday home game with the Jets from Ralph Wilson Stadium to Detroit’s domed Ford Field on Monday night due to a massive snow storm and the stadium being unusable.

Again, nothing is decided, as it relates to the dangers of Hurricane Irma.

But if you are wagering on the simplest thing to do, where the Dolphins keep the home game in their stadium, it’s likely Friday night. Then again, everyone may decide/agree to go elsewhere and play on Sunday.

We all watch and wait, same as the Bucs and Dolphins.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Monday of the situation. “I just got through giving the players a big speech about, ‘Control what you can control and don’t worry about the rest,’ and I have no control over this.’’

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