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Bad idea: Dolphins yield Jets home game in '15

I like the idea of the NFL playing games in London. I even like the idea of the Miami Dolphins occasionally doing their league civic duty and playing games in London.

But what we are learning in the past two days goes too far and turns a good idea into a bad joke.

And the Dolphins are the punch line.

The Dolphins, you see, are traveling to London in 2015 for the second time in as many years, as I reported Wednesday. Now here is where it gets ugly.

The Dolphins are giving up a home game for the privilege.

Gets better worse...

The Dolphins are giving up a home game against an AFC East division rival.

Worse ...

The Dolphins are vacating their home-and-home series with the New York Jets next year, playing one game at New York's MetLife Stadium, as usual, and the other game -- Miami's so-called home game -- in London.

I'm trying to think which part of this set of facts is good for the football side of the Dolphins organization.


Still thinking.

Still thinking.

The Dolphins and NFL sources will privately tell you this is a good deal for the, um, home team. It may give the Dolphins a chance to advance construction on their scheduled upgrades to Sun Life Stadium. It may also set up the Dolphins as a team that can host a Super Bowl because NFL owners last month voted to tie hosting a Super Bowl to giving up a home game to the London venue.

(In other words, a team hosting a Super Bowl must agree to play in London at least once within a five-year span. So the Dolphins would be eligible to win a SB bid through 2020 knowing they already met the criteria.)

But I'm not buying any of this spin. Neither are some right-thinking people.

As one NFL source told me Wednesday, "What it looks like to me is you have a team that rather be hosting Super Bowls than playing in Super Bowls."

Harsh. Very harsh. And I do not know for a fact the Dolphins agreed to go back to the United Kingdom in order to line up for a Super Bowl bid.

But when you understand that the Dolphins are giving up a home divisional game against arguably their most bitter rival, it is hard to argue a counterpoint to that criticism -- or any criticism. The Dolphins are actually the only team that will be giving up a division home game to play in London next year. No other team has done it in the past, ostensibly because it is not a great idea.

The optics are the optics.

I also know this: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose team is playing in London on Sunday, recently told Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan that giving up a home game to host a Super Bowl at his AT&T Stadium in Arlington was not a palatable option for him.

The Cowboys are playing the Jacksonville Jaguars as the visitors on Sunday.

"We're playing Jacksonville in London and we would not have played in that game if it cost us a home game, and we just wouldn't do it, and haven't done it," Jones said. "That's not being mean in any way or [not] being a team player. We made too big of a commitment to our fans and to our organization to play our 10 games here."

So what about the Dolphins commitment to play at Sun Life?

Wait, stop. Forget that.

What about the Dolphins commitment to give themselves every competitive advantage possible?

The Dolphins are perhaps behind only New England and Green Bay as the most secretive organization in the NFL. They do not discuss injuries to the point coach Joe Philbin will not talk about an injury report that is coming out in a couple of minutes anyway. They tell players not to discuss injuries or they'll be fined. They tell agents not to speak to the media (a request many agents laugh at behind the back of the person making this request because it is beyond the pale of normal NFL operating procedure). The Dolphins also do not want possible lineup changes reported.

And all this and more is done under the guise of protecting the organization's competitive advantage.

And until Wednesday night when I found out about this home game against the Jets being moved to London, I respected the Miami competitive advantage narrative because winning trumps everything in the NFL -- even if you have to act paranoid to do it.

But amid that competitive advantage mania about a pulled hamstring or a looming free agency signing that everyone will find out about anyway, the Dolphins are giving away a home game.

To the New York Jets.

So much for competitive advantage.

By the way, you know how far it is from Miami to London? The Internet tells me it is 4,425 miles. You know how far it is from New York to London? The Internet tells me it is 3,459 miles.

So the Dolphins will travel nearly 1,000 miles farther to their home game against the Jets next year than the Jets will. That's a nearly two hour longer flight.

The game will be played Oct. 4. The average temperature in Miami on Oct. 4 is 88 degrees. The average temperature in London on Oct. 4 is 60 degrees.

This is a bad idea, folks. There is no amount of NFL gate guarantee or prestige for landing a Super Bowl that makes giving up a home game worthwhile.

Jerry Jones, for one, recognizes that.

Stephen Ross?

Well, he made the case years ago that it was better to switch early season games to road games or to 4 p.m. starts because it was too hot at Sun Life early in the season for 1 p.m. kickoffs. Some Miami fans had told the Dolphins owner that sitting in the stadium in September for those 1 p.m. games was too uncomfortable.

And so Ross requested the changes in 2009-2011. Except he failed to recognize that fans like winning probably more than they dislike sweating. And those early kickoff times had always been and could remain a weather advantage for the Dolphins.

(No better proof of this advantage than this year's regular-season opening win againt New England. The Patriots led 20-10 at halftime. The Dolphins rolled them in the second half in the heat).

It took Ross a few years to figure this truth out and stop fiddling with the 1 p.m.  kickoffs and early-season home games.

Now, he has obviously signed off on giving up a home game ... to a division rival ... named the New York Jets. He couldn't figure out that is not a benefit to his football team?

And that sound you're hearing? People in New York cackling.