TAMPA — Hurricane Matthew continued to impact not only the state of Florida but also its NFL teams Thursday, including the Bucs, who were scheduled to play Monday night in Charlotte, N.C., against the 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, a game 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 was expected to move northwest along the east coastline of Florida, then track along the southeast coast of the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's future projections showed the hurricane, projected to weaken to a tropical storm by Sunday afternoon, wrapping back around to the south and southwest over the course of Monday and Tuesday. Charlotte is fairly inland compared to the hurricane's projected path.
An announcement on a change to the Bucs-Panthers game likely would come today. Change was unlikely based on the storm's track Thursday night.
"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."
If the NFL moved the Titans-Dolphins game from Miami, Tampa and Raymond James Stadium could be an option with the Bucs scheduled to be on the road and Tampa being farther from the threat of the hurricane.
Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.