The Dolphins returned home early Saturday, much later than expected.
It was the kind of travel delay that concerned many players when they reluctantly played their exhibition finale at New Orleans while Hurricane
Frances moved toward Florida's east coast Friday night.
Frances forced the team's charter plane to land in Tampa on the west coast of Florida, and the Dolphins had to take a four-hour bus ride to South
Florida. Players and coaches arrived at 6 a.m., more than seven hours after beating the Saints 20-19.
"It wasn't the ideal circumstance to fly into Tampa, but we got everybody back before the real serious weather hit," team spokesman Harvey Greene
The players voted overwhelming not to play the game because they wanted to stay with their families to prepare for the storm. The NFL refused the
request, but several players were under the impression the game wasn't going to be played.
Nine players didn't make the trip, but the only injury-related absences were fullback Rob Konrad (knee) and defensive tackle Tim Bowens (back).
Receiver Chris Chambers, defensive end Chidi Ahanotu, wide receiver Antonio Freeman and tight ends Donald Lee and John Jones stayed behind without
Chambers told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel he didn't get the Dolphins' message on his cell phone about the game being played until after the charter
flight left Fort Lauderdale.
"There were a lot of guys complaining," Chambers said. "The next thing I know, they're in New Orleans. It was just miscommunication. No one called the
house I was ready to go."
Left tackle Wade Smith and defensive tackle Larry Chester, both starters, didn't make the trip because their wives are pregnant.
Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt refused to say what penalties the players might face.
"It will be dealt with," he said. "Once I decide if and what, I will deal with it in-house and that will be the end of it."
Wannstedt's day-after news conference scheduled for Saturday was postponed to Sunday. Players were off until Monday. The Dolphins open the season next
Sunday at home against Tennessee.
Forecasters expected the large Category 2 storm with 105 mph top sustained winds to come ashore late Saturday or early Sunday somewhere along the
middle of the state's Atlantic coast.
The arrival was about a day later than earlier predictions, a delay that forced the postponement of dozens of sports events across the state.