Adam Gase takes five minutes out of his afternoon for a phone call, and yes, it‘s in the middle of Hurricane Irma.
He’s talking about regathering his players who are spread out all over the country. And everything is very cordial until I bring up the disadvantage of not having a bye — a fact the Dolphins must deal with because Irma forced the NFL to postpone Miami’s home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and rearrange the schedule that way.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Gase says, his voice filling with passion it didn’t have a moment ago. “That’s not an excuse. I’m not going to make any excuses. My guys are not going to make excuses. We’ll make our own bye. We’ll figure it out. I’ll figure it out.
“We’re not going to cry about stuff like that when we have people down there who don’t have a house any more or have a million other things going on because of a hurricane. You know what? The 1992 Dolphins got hit by a hurricane. They didn’t have a bye. How’d that go?”
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Think back 25 years to late August of 1992 when Hurricane Andrew razed South Dade and changed our region and people’s lives forever. The Dolphins were originally scheduled to begin their 27th season at home against the New England Patriots on Sept. 7, 1992. The game was postponed until Oct 18.
So those Dolphins would play 16 games in 16 weeks just like today’s Dolphins now must do.
On the NFL’s first weekend, while other teams were kicking off their season, Joe Robbie Stadium was being used as a staging area for out-of-town first responders in 1992. It was also used as an ice and food distribution zone.
Dolphins players, meanwhile, spent the lead-up to that regular-season weekend distributing supplies in Homestead rather than preparing for a season-opener.
“I remember [quarterback] Danny [Marino] standing on a jeep and handing out cartons of water,” said Harvey Greene who was then the team’s media relations director and now is in charge of the club’s historical affairs. “There’s a picture of that scene.
“We all took a team bus down there. And sitting on that bus and looking at some of the places we passed — first we saw houses that had roof damage and we thought that was bad. And then we got to Homestead and entire sides of houses were gone. We could see where houses had stood and now there was nothing left.
“It really affected the players on the team a lot. They all saw the devastation. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It put a lot of things in perspective. I know personally to this day that stays with me. It scarred me for life. It’s the reason I never have any intention of going through another hurricane again because I know what it can do.”
We’re all getting a better sense of what a hurricane can do even when it misses. Even when it doesn’t connect, it can set a life marker that you’ll recall the details of when you’re old.
Today’s Dolphins didn’t actually go through Hurricane Irma. They left town days before Irma arrived. But their lives and livelihood have been affected by the storm.
And so the question is can they answer Irma the same way the 1992 Dolphins answered Andrew? Can they treat a terrible real-life disaster like a scheduling inconvenience rather than a season-crashing event?
This is where I tell you those ’92 Dolphins were the NFL’s last team to start their season because their second game was on a Monday night. And despite starting last, that team started fast.
The ’92 Dolphins were 6-0 out of the gate. They finished the season 11-5 and won the AFC East to earn a playoff bye.
“We didn’t get a bye,” Greene said, “we had to earn it.”
Those hurricane ravaged Dolphins of a quarter century ago won a playoff game and made it to the AFC Championship Game, which they hosted. Adam Gase knows his franchise history.
He knows a hurricane wiped out the bye and threatened the Dolphins’ season in 1992. And he knows how that turned out.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero