Fearing the unknown from powerful Hurricane Irma, the NFL on Wednesday opted to move Sunday's Dolphins-Buccaneers game to Week 11.
While the maneuver ensures that there will not be a football game or masses of fans and operational workers out and about if the record storm makes landfall in South Florida, it also drew criticism for the impact it has on both teams' schedules. Neither the Buccaneers nor the Dolphins will have respite from 16 straight games since the postponed matchup occurs during their mutual bye week. The Dolphins will not have a home game in South Florida until Oct. 8 against the Titans -- a week after the Dolphins return home from England where they play the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed those concerns during an appearance on Good Morning Football Thursday.
"Well listen, the most important thing for us in making the decision was to make sure we put the parties where they should be, which is on the safety of the people of Florida," Goodell said. "We don't know where this storm is actually going to strike but it's become increasingly clear that it's going to be in the South Florida region. I think what we want to do is make sure we're not compromising in any way the preparations that are necessary to make sure people are safe. That includes people in the community but it also includes our players and coaches and families. We want to make sure we're doing the right thing in the community to help through this difficult period of time and football is not the priority right now.
"So for us after a lot of discussion, considering a lot of different options, the fact that they both have a bye in Week 11 was the right thing for us to do. It's the right thing from a community standpoint, it's the right thing from a priority standpoint, it's the right thing from, our view, the NFL standpoint."
Goodell and the NFL have been in the news for myriad reasons this week, ranging from the recovery effort in Houston led by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, to the upheld suspension of star Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Here are some other notable moments from Goodell's interview on NFL Network Thursday morning.
On what is next in the Ezekiel Elliott case*(read the latest from NFL.com here):* "I don't know, at this stage our process is completed through the actual investigation. Obviously, the discipline itself, the appeals hearing. As you know, litigation was brought by the NFLPA; that will play itself out in court. The judge indicates that he'll make a decision by Friday. We'll obviously respect that and do our best to position ourselves. This has been a very thorough, very carefully constructed process. It is something we take very seriously and I believe the facts will demonstrate that -- and they have already and I believe they will continue to do that."
On a recent incident involving Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and Las Vegas police, which Goodell issued a statement on Wednesday: "Well I think the players have taken a position that they believe that their communities can get better and that they want to work towards trying to find and develop better solutions in the community. And I support that. I think our players are important voices in the community, important leaders. They're passionate about this issue and the fact that they believe change is necessary. And we all know America can get better. We all know there can be greater respect. We all need to work harder to understand each other, listen and respect each other and realize that hatred and division is not going to benefit us. And I want to know that -- I want the players to know that we're supporting them in that effort. That there are ways we can improve our communities and our clubs and our players will work together to do that."
On Goodell's reception in New England (the Commissioner is on hand for Thursday's season-opener between the Chiefs and Patriots): "It's great we had a wonderful day yesterday. Lots of events going on as part of our kickoff celebration and the celebration of the Patriots' Super Bowl. But yesterday we also spent a fair amount of time, a few hours, working to complete a home for kids at risk. It was called Bridge Over Troubled Waters and it was a great institution that the Kraft family has been very supportive of and we're supporting as part of our kickoff event to redo a house that is going to be a home for people that are at risk but, I think, are going to have a great life moving forward. It's just all part of our efforts in the community and then, of course, today we're going to focus on football. Tonight will be a great football game. I'm excited to be there, I can't wait to get there."
On the continued recovery efforts in Houston: "I think it's a couple things we hope for on Sunday. First, I want to say I'm incredibly proud of our clubs, our players, J.J. Watt has been extraordinary. What he's been able to accomplish -- he's been inspiring -- but so many players, so many coaches, so many clubs all contributed in this effort. But I'm going down on Sunday to Houston in large part to thank the first responders, to let the people know there that we haven't forgotten about them, that they're at the front of our minds and we're thinking about them. I hope the game is an opportunity to celebrate; the fact that this community is coming back and it's going to rebuild and it's going to be better than ever and we want to be a part of that. I think it will be a great celebration for the community and all the people who have done such incredible work over the last couple of weeks."