NFL eyes hurricane 'contingency' options for Bucs-Panthers
Hurricane Matthew continues to impact not only the state of Florida but also its football teams, including the Bucs, who are scheduled to play Monday night in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers, weather permitting.
The NFL released a statement Thursday afternoon saying it was "conducting contingency planning" for the Bucs-Panthers game, as well as Sunday's scheduled game between the Titans and Dolphins in Miami, more directly in the path of the hurricane.
"We are in close contact with local and state authorities about the hurricane," the statement said. "As always, our overriding concern is for public safety and not doing anything that will divert important resources away from communities that may be in distress. Consistent with that, we are conducting contingency planning for the Tennessee at Miami game as well as the Tampa Bay at Carolina game."
The hurricane is expected to move north along Florida's shoreline, then track east into the Atlantic, but those are just tracking models. Charlotte is fairly inland compared to the hurricane's projected path, but the NFL will continue to monitor the storm.
Any announcement on a change to the Bucs-Panthers game would come by Friday, and remains unlikely based on the storm's current track.
"The weather is changing a lot of our plans on a daily basis, it seems like," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday afternoon. "Every time I get a weather report, it's different. First off, what's going on with the weather is a lot more serious than what's going on with the football game. This is a real serious matter. Like everybody, we have to be on call to change plans as it's called for."
Friday night's UCF-Tulane football game in Orlando has been postponed until Nov. 5, and Saturday's UF-LSU game in Gainesville has been indefinitely postponed. Tampa is a possibility for Saturday night's FSU-Miami game in Miami, but no announcement has been made about shifting the game elsewhere.