Greg Cote

There’s storybook end to season born to Irma. It’s up to Dolphins or UM write it

Dolphins Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker celebrating a touchdown.
Dolphins Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker celebrating a touchdown. Miami Herald

This is the beginning of one of those great sports stories -- the ones that are way beyond and bigger than sports.

Now all the Dolphins or Hurricanes have to do is write it.

Imagine: Something totally unexpected — and extraordinary — made of the football season born in the crosshairs of Hurricane Irma.

Imagine the Miami Dolphins seeing their home season opener blown away, blown all the way to November, by the imminent threat of a Category 5 hurricane then tracking right at South Florida. And then this team, led by emerg

With Hurricane Irma approaching Florida, the NFL decided to move the Dolphins-Buccaneers game to Week 11, meaning the teams will have to play 16 games in a row.

ency fill-in quarterback Jay Cutler, reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1984 season, even as Key West and so many other regions of Florida still struggle to recover.

Imagine the aptly named Hurricanes seeing their second game of the season canceled and then the megagame at Florida State postponed by that same awful storm. And then this team, led by an inexperienced first-time starter at quarterback, reaching the four-team College Football Playoff for a shot at UM's first national championship since the 2001 season.

With Hurricane Irma approaching Florida, the NFL decided to move the Dolphins-Buccaneers game to Week 11, meaning the teams will have to play 16 games in a row.

Storybook stuff, too perfect, but sports are famous for that.

Remember that it was a team wrapped in red, white and blue, a team named Patriots, that won the Super Bowl the season wrapped amid the tragedy of 9/11?

Remember how New Orleans won the 2009-season Super Bowl and declared it a symbol of the city's resolve, recovery and ultimate triumph over Hurricane Katrina.

How sweet if the playoff-bound Astros might be able to dedicate a World Series championship to the people of Houston and to the victims of the catastrophic flooding wrought by Hurricane Harvey.

Sports can serve a unique role as a coalescing force in communities -- a force needed in times of great calamity and challenge.

This is when we are reminded of the power of sports as a common bond. What is the hub of South Florida, the modern town square, more than the Dolphins or Hurricanes?

This would be a good time for something great to happen with one of our big teams? Here or across the state, ravaged Florida could use the diversion and lift, the feeling we get from cheering, and hoping, and believing.

If it isn't the Dolphins or Canes shocking expectations, maybe it'll be Giancarlo Stanton breaking clean home run record of 61. We aren't particular. Feelgood is feelgood, and we could use some right now.

You cannot fully explain a hurricane to people who haven't been through one. That is why we've heard ignorant critics questioning if UM needed to cancel that road trip, or if the FSU needed to be rescheduled.

My baptism was with Hurricane Betsy in 1965. As a little kid I remember my parents trying to explain to a little kid how for two or three days we'd hear scary, howling winds and all the lights would go off.

"Why?" I asked.

"Just because" is about the only answer that makes any sense.

Dad put up plywood. We couldn't afford shutters. Our metal frame screened-in porch ended up three blocks away.

The good thing about a hurricane is, you get a few days to prepare.

The bad thing is, everything else.

Most of Miami-Dade and Broward counties dodged not so much a bullet as unrelenting cannon-fire when Irma veered west. We got very fortunate and are acutely aware that fate, our dumb luck, was somebody else's life-changing pain.

I pray for a friend who had a home in Fort Myers Beach, right on the water.

I pray Key West, a favorite weekend getaway, can be itself again, someday. Funky Key West. Sunsets on the dock. Derrieres parked on stools at the Hog's Breath. Bloody Mary breakfasts at Blue Heaven. Nighttime strolls past the drag shows along the circus called Duval.

Come back, Key West.

Stay strong, all those many areas hit harder than us.

We got so lucky. I lost enough trees and landscaping to make a pile of debris six feet tall and 20 feet wide. We played dominoes and Monopoly by candlelight. I was in my front yard smoking a cigar late Monday night when our electricity came back on. Along my street and blocks away, you heard spontaneous cheering and applause.

The greatest damage in my neighborhood was a massive tree branch that crushed a car.

"Compared to what could have been, I'm grateful," said my neighbor.

Hurricanes teach us to be thankful. To appreciate the small stuff. To remind ourselves what a miracle it is when you flip a switch and there is light?

For us it was if the the first NFL Sunday didn't even happen. We were blacked out. Life went on.

Now, though, a big part of our lives getting back to normal will be the rhythm and routine of our teams and games resuming. We'll get to remember how important sports are in our lives, and why. We'll get to feel the healing power of cheering for the same thing.

That's assuming Hurricane Jose continues on a benevolent path, of course.