With Hurricane Sandy causing an estimated $50 billion in damage to the New York/New Jersey area earlier this week, the National Football League has waived its travel rules and will allow the Pittsburgh Steelers to fly to New Jersey on Sunday morning for their 4:25 p.m. ET game against the New York Giants.
NFL rules require visiting teams arrive in the host city on the day before a scheduled game. Some teams arrive two days early, particularly on longer road trips to get acclimated to a different time zone. In recent seasons, the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers have spent full weeks on opposite coasts when the schedule calls for them to make cross-country trips in back-to-back weeks.
The Steelers' hotel — the Westin in Jersey City — was without power and other hotels in the area lacked sufficient vacant rooms. The team and league are wisely taking this rare approach to travel rules, allowing any empty rooms to be used by families who have been displaced by Sandy.
While the storm has forced the cancellation of the NYC Marathon, Sunday's Giants-Steelers game will go as planned. There had been talk that the Steelers-Giants game should have been moved from MetLife Stadium to another location, perhaps Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. After all, there is precedent for taking that step as the Giants received an additional home game during the 2005 season when Hurricane Katrina caused their road game against New Orleans Saints to be played at Giants Stadium.
MetLife Stadium did not sustain any damage from the storm, but the area has been hit hard. 10,000 Giants fans who take the train to the stadium will have to find alternate transportation as NJ Transit will not be running trains from Secaucus and Hoboken to the stadium on Sunday. Players' homes, including Mathias Kiwanuka's Hoboken townhouse, were not spared from the damage.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is glad that the game will go on as scheduled and in East Rutherford.
"I don't think there's going to be much of anything diverted away from us by having the game there," Gov. Christie told SiriusXM's Mad Dog Radio on Friday (via Tom Rock of Newsday). "The fact is that's a completely privately-owned piece of property now. There are flushless toilets in the new MetLife Stadium. This is just not a situation where I think there are going to be a lot of state resources diverted. And ultimately, my philosophy is I don't want the government involved in making those decisions unless it is an absolute emergency.
"Now, if the East Rutherford area looked like Mantoloking? (It's a) whole different story. But you don't have that kind of destruction up there. You do have people without power, but they have their own power system up there. But the fact is I don't think there is a lot being diverted. If the NFL feels comfortable playing under those circumstances, that's the NFL's call as long as they are not impeding me from being able to help the state back to recovery. And I don't think those three hours are going to hurt the state's progress towards recovery."
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