Chiefs and Dolphins Set for Friday Clash

With Hurricane Wilma bearing down on the Florida coast sometime Saturday evening, the NFL has moved up the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Miami Dolphins from Sunday afternoon to Friday night.

The Kansas City Chiefs were informed by the NFL early Thursday morning that their match up with the Miami Dolphins would be moved up two days. As a preventative measure and with the expected destruction path of Hurricane Wilma eyeing down on Florida; the NFL thought it was best to play the game on Friday night instead of Sunday or even Monday night. Reports have indicated that the strength of Hurricane Wilma could churn wind speeds upwards of 110 to 120 mph when it slams into the Florida coast lines over the weekend.

The Chiefs in an unprecedented move will leave for Miami on Friday morning around 9:00 am. That departure will mark the first time in NFL history that a team has left and played on game day. Kansas City will then depart immediately after the 6:00 PM contest and return to Kansas City in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

CBS will broadcast the game on Friday night in the Miami and Kansas City areas only. However due to an agreement with the NFL, CBS is only allowed to televise the game in the host and traveling cities. NFL policy does not allow teams to go up against High School Football on Friday nights thus people living outside of a 75 mile radius of Kansas City and Miami; will not be able to view the game.

The Chiefs were hoping the game would be moved to Arrowhead but league officials felt that was a clear advantage to Kansas City. Thus the game will be played Friday in Miami in what could be very wet and rainy conditions.

Head Coach Dick Vermeil was upbeat about the timing of the game despite the fact that game will be played two days early. President Carl Peterson was not as thrilled but there is little that he or the organization can do.

The Chiefs are trying to work something out with the NFL and CBS about increasing the television coverage to include other cities in Kansas and Missouri. Right now the game won't be shown in Columbia, Springfield and Joplin, Missouri or in Wichita and Pittsburgh, Kansas. Not to mention Iowa and Oklahoma where the Chiefs have a huge following.

That has plenty of people in an uproar including Danny Thomas, president and general manager of KOAM-TV in Pittsburg, Kan. (covers Joplin, Mo., and parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas)

"We've received numerous phone calls from viewers as they became aware that the game is being rescheduled for Friday. Their primary question was whether we would be carrying it. The network says the NFL says only the home market and adjacent market can carry although I say I'm an adjacent market. This is the first time and I've been general manager since 1988. We heard about it from our viewers before we heard about it ourselves. Talk radio was apparenly talking about this rule. CBS contends they have nothing to do with it. We haven't appealed to the NFL. It would have required scrambling, but it's going to require scrambling for anyone who carries it. You're heading into sweeps and you have your book and you wouldn't be airing things you told people you would be airing. Conversely, there is a tremendous interest in this area for the Chiefs and those people now don't have an outlet to see that game at all. We will carry an AFC game (on Sunday). Hasn't decided which yet."

On the injury front, cornerback Dexter McCleon won't be play Friday night. He'll be replaced in the starting lineup by DeWayne Washington. Eric Warfield will back up Washington and should see plenty of action as the nickel back.

Wide receiver Samie Parker won't play either but the Chiefs didn't announce who would start in his place. Marc Boerigter took plenty of snaps with the first unit offense on Wednesday and Thursday. He'll likely share duty with Dante Hall who will have an increased role in the offense.

Larry Johnson who is suffering from a thigh bruise will play Friday night but with the short week; his playing time could be limited.

This game will be a homecoming for safety Sammy Knight and cornerback Patrick Surtain who both played for the Dolphins. Knight played for Miami the last two seasons while Surtain played for the Dolphins from 1988 - 2004 before both joined this Chiefs in the off season.

The Dolphins also have injuries to deal with as defensive end Jason Taylor and starting linebacker Junior Seau could both miss Friday Night's contest against the Chiefs. Both players are listed as questionable but their status could change since neither has yet to practice this week.

This is an important game for both the Chiefs and Dolphins. The Dolphins are 2-3 on the year after losing last weekend at Tampa Bay. They are perfect at home with a 2-0 record but are winless on the road. The Dolphins beat the Broncos 34-10 to open the season and two weeks later they defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-24 on a last second field goal.

After losing two straight games, the Kansas City Chiefs bounced back last weekend by defeating the Redskins to move their season record to 3-2. Unlike the Dolphins the Chiefs have won on the road this season. In week two they defeated the Oakland Raiders.

With a big AFC West showdown the following Sunday in San Diego, the Chiefs would be in great shape if they can leave South Florida with a victory.

Friday nights contest will mark the first time since October 23, 1964 that Kansas City will play a Friday Night football contest on what is traditionally a night reserved exclusively for High School football. Back in their AFL days the Chiefs traveled to Boston to play the Patriots. Let's hope the outcome is different this time around as Kansas City lost that game 24-7.

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