Players made light of their ordeal on social media after being holed up for hours in a plane stuck on the runway.
In a symbolic end to a trying preseason, the Dolphins’ charter home from Dallas was involved in a minor runway accident early Thursday morning, stranding the team for hours.
The AmericanAirlines 767 carrying players and coaches back to South Florida backed into a parked plane at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, clipping wings with an empty MD-80. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford says no one was hurt but both American Airlines jets were damaged in the incident early Thursday.
After scrounging up a suitable replacement plane — no small feat in the middle of the night — the Dolphins deboarded and then finally left for home some time after 4 a.m. Weary players didn’t make it back to South Florida until after sunrise, as reflected in their Twitter activity.
“8:08 am. Just got home from Dallas. [Longest] trip ever!” quarterback Matt Moore wrote on the social media site.
Joe Rose, the former Dolphins player and local sportscaster, was among the dozens on the flight.
Rose was sitting toward the back of the plane, and knew something was amiss when he heard what sounded like a jack underneath the wheels. The plane then bumped side-to-side, but didn’t tip, Rose added.
“I’ve never seen anything like that, honestly,” Rose said.
Rose said the fault laid not with the pilot, but with the runway operator who was towing the plane away from the gate.
With the plane clearly unusable, the players, coaches and staff had nowhere to go. They remained inside the damaged jet until a replacement arrived — a nuisance Dolphins players shared with the world in real time.
“So tired and haven’t even left Dallas yet,” wrote Brian Hartline, who was the first to break the news. “Aaaaand the rumor is we backed into another plane... On the runway #awesome! Anyone else awake?”
Added offensive tackle Andrew McDonald: “Runway crew backed the plane into another plane and wrecked the wing,”
The incident came at an already tenuous time for the team. The Dolphins had just lost their preseason finale to the Cowboys 30-13 to go winless in the exhibition season. Plus, coaches and scouts had intended to spend Thursday finalizing their 53-man roster. With Friday’s cut-down deadline inflexible, they likely went ahead with their work Thursday, albeit through bleary eyes.
Lucky for the players, they had the day off. Most presumably spent it like cornerback Sean Smith, who wrote: “Glued to my bed.... I’ve never been this tired everrrrr!!!!!!”
Added Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, via Twitter: “Who backs into another plane? I understand [stuff] happens but, COME ON MAN!! Got home at 8:30 am. Enjoying my off day in #ZOMBIE mode.”
This report was supplemented by Miami Herald wire services.