While the rest of the NFL was engulfed in the hope and excitement that comes with the first week of a new season, the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers sat at home, watching Hurricane Irma plow through their hometowns. The NFL did the right thing by canceling their game and deciding to make it up November 19, a week when both teams were supposed to have a bye.
But the NFL still found a way to screw over the Dolphins. By playing during their bye week, both teams now must face a grueling 16-week NFL slate without a week of rest. Even worse for the Dolphins, one of those 16 straight games is in London, where they will take on the New Orleans Saints October 1.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross asked the league to move the game out of the U.K., specifically citing his concerns for player safety with that much travel stuffed into a nonstop schedule.
But the NFL has refused the Dolphins' request to move the game back to Miami. The NFL has its priorities in order, and directly in front of player safety will always be money and profit. New bodies will always be available to demolish in the name of the NFL shield, after all.
The league has no problem regularly changing venues and game times when it benefits the NFL. That's why it includes primetime "flex" options that change the Sunday-night game on NBC to a more favorable game every week, and it's also why the NFL doesn't care that a natural disaster in early September now means the Dolphins will play football every week until at least New Year's Eve.
Really, it's quite simple: The NFL could choose to go without one single London game (there are still three others scheduled to take place this year), allowing the Dolphins to stay at home October 1 rather than fly halfway around the world and back.
But that would involve losing a little money on some refunded tickets and events planned around the game. It would — gasp — involve a loss of revenue and exposure in the name of taking care of one of its teams. It would mean actually caring about NFL players' health even if it cost a buck.
Moving the Dolphins' London game back to Miami would show that NFL execs care about player safety. And once again, they've proven they simply don't.