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Bucs game invokes Rule 17-1-7 and moves to Wednesday to avoid tropical storm

hurr jeanne 2004

Due to forecasts that Tropical Depression 9 will strengthen into a tropical storm and threaten the Florida gulf coast on Thursday, the Buccaneers game against Washington will be moved up to 23 ½ hours and kickoff on Wednesday night.

Moving up a kickoff does have precedent and is covered in Rule 17-1-7:

PRE-GAME THREAT. If there is deemed to be a threat of an emergency that may occur during the playing of a  game (e.g., an incoming tropical storm), the starting time of such game will not be moved to an earlier time unless there is  clearly sufficient time to make an orderly change.

As I noted in my book  So You Think You Know Football?, the last time that a regular-season game  was moved up from its scheduled kickoff time was the Chiefs-Dolphins game in Oct. 2005, which was moved to a Friday night in advance of Hurricane Wilma. There are incomplete records on the scheduled preseason kickoff times to pinpoint the last preseason game moved to an earlier day.

The NFL also briefly considered moving this game north to FedEx Field, making it a home game for Washington, before deciding on the Wednesday kickoff in Tampa.

Craig Wrolstad is the referee for the game, which will now be broadcast nationally on NFL Network,  except where it airs on local channels: in addition to Washington and Tampa, this includes Baltimore; Norfolk, Richmond, and Roanoke, Va.; Orlando, Fort Meyers, and Tallahassee, Fla.; and Mobile, Ala., according to  506 Sports.

Image: Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 over Tampa, NOAA photo via Tampa Bay Times

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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