I would like to begin today’s blog by letting everyone know that me and my family have come through Hurricane Irma just fine. We never lost power in our suburban Ft. Lauderdale home, although my daughter and her family were without electricity until this past Thursday night. They stayed in our home until power was restored.
Irma must not have been a football fan. Not that there is ever a convenient time for a major tropical cyclone to hit anybody, but this lady couldn’t have had any worse timing! The gall of a super force of nature to strike on NFL’s opening Sunday!
Hard Rock Stadium in Miami , where the Dolphins were supposed to open the 2017 season against their cross state rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday.
The 2017 NFL season was supposed to begin at Hard Rock Stadium, with the Miami Dolphins playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As the storm approached, the decision was made to move the game, so much for a home opener in South Florida. Rumors began circulating about where and when the game would be played. Atlanta and New Orleans kept being mentioned as possible neutral sites. The Bucs and Dolphins do share a bye week, but the NFL originally balked at the prospect of both teams playing 16 consecutive weeks. The problem with moving it to a neutral site was the fact that the Dolphins already are playing a home game against New Orleans in London. This would mean the Dolphins would only be home in Miami six times and would play all four NFC South opponents away from Hard Rock Stadium. The game was moved to November 19th despite the prospect of playing without a bye.
Hurricane Irma started to take aim at the entire state of Florida on Friday night. It spent most of Saturday hugging the northern coast of Cuba and hurling its feeder bands towards South Florida. The thick of the storm approached the Keys during the night Saturday into Sunday. Many lost power here in South Florida as Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning. At my house we were very lucky, we never lost power, but we lost our access to TV and internet around 4:00 Sunday morning. That created a football fan’s nightmare! We didn’t get TV or internet back until Tuesday evening.
Not only were the Dolphins not opening at home, they weren’t playing at all. Not only were the Dolphins not playing but most of the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach were now cut off from the rest of the football world! Having my Michigan raised son-in-law Matt staying with us , we were focusing on whatever news we could get via the ESPN app on my cell phone regarding the Lions opener vs. the Cardinals. Matt was in contact with his dad and brothers in Michigan who were actually able to relay the proceedings at Ford Field to us.
Just one of many damaged structures in Cudjoe Key, where Irma made landfall on Sunday.
Yes, last Sunday was the football opener that never happened for most of the state of Florida, but there are more important things than football. So many awful stories, the devastation in the Florida Keys was painful to watch. Saturday and Sunday were very scary on a personal level, we spent what seemed to be countless hours watching tree limbs fly past our living room window. We spent what seemed to be an eternity listening to wind gust after wind gust. Thank God we were only inconvenienced by no access to NFL’s opening Sunday.
The Miami Dolphins will be part of a bit of history as they open their 2017 season this afternoon. The now Los Angeles Chargers play their first home game outside of San Diego as a member of the NFL when they host Miami. The Chargers played the 1960 American Football League season in Los Angeles and left for San Diego the following season.
Finally, today’s opener will be a tough one for me and my family. It will be the first one without my son, Justin. As many of you know, he passed away this past February. Every Sunday morning during football season, we would discuss the Dolphins and the rest of the NFL. This year just wont be the same. The past couple of years, Justin wore a Ryan Tannehill jersey on gamedays, it will be my honor to carry on his tradition this season. I always had a tradition of my own. I would wear team t-shirts and jerseys on gameday throughout the year, but if Miami lost a game, I would wear a different shirt the following week and so on. This year, win or lose I will be donning the number 17 aqua jersey for Justin.
Justin’s remembrance went beyond football this weekend. My daughter Megan is a thriving member of the Crossfit community here in Broward County. Yesterday morning, Crossfit LPF, Megan’s home gym conducted a memorial workout of the day (known as a WOD in Crossfit jargon) to remember Justin and bring awareness to the suicide epidemic that seems to be hitting today’s young adults. Robin, myself, and our granddaughter Madeline were all in attendance. Donning Justin’s jersey today will cap off a memorable, yet difficult, opening weekend.
I dedicate today’s blog, the NFL season, and the Miami Dolphins season to Justin’s memory, mental disease awareness and suicide awareness. Any lives that can be spared would be a victory.