At the time of the announcement that the Bucs game this Sunday was rescheduled until the November bye week, social media lit up with some fans criticizing the NFL’s decision. Even some Bucs players vented their frustration with having to play 16 weeks in a row without a break.
Two days later, with Hurricane Irma bearing down on on all of Florida, those who disagreed with the league’s conclusion, now see it was the only realistic choice that could be made.
The majority of players we spoke to in open locker room agreed with the decision, even it wasn’t exactly ideal. Bucs safety Chris Conte has a specific reason he didn’t mind the NFL’s alternative plan.
Bucs FS Chris Conte – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I think the biggest thing for us was for them to make a decision, one way or the other,” Conte said. “Waiting around and not knowing what was going to happen, the uncertainty of that made things a little more stressful. Especially in my situation with my significant other being pregnant. I can’t just go to a game and leave her behind. I have to make plans for her. To make sure she is safe.
“So I think moving the game to another site, and leaving our families behind really wasn’t an option, and I don’t think coach Koetter would have let that be an option. Having it all cleared up now we can focus on getting our families to safe places is the best for everyone. Going 16 weeks straight is going to be tough, but it is a better option than what else was on the table.”
Head coach Dirk Koetter spoke about the game being postponed at the podium on Wednesday.
“Yep, it is nice to have clarity more than anything else,” Koetter said. “The number-one thing any of us should be thinking about is safety of everyone involved, not just our people but everybody’s families and the communities. This is a natural disaster. Football takes a backseat to all of that.
“I’ve never been through a hurricane, and the projections they make, I’m a little nervous about the hurricane. Never been through one. The football part, I’m not nervous about the football part. I’m nervous about what’s going to happen. All you’ve got to do is turn on the TV and look at Houston, and we should be nervous.”
Quarterback Jameis Winston also talked about the game being postponed.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR
“I’m just concerned about people’s families,” Winston said. “This is bigger than football. I just want everybody to be safe, especially my teammates that [are] on the road, catching flights and I want everybody to just be safe. I really don’t want to fly because I’ve got Tootsie [his dog]. I don’t want to leave Tootsie back. Hopefully everybody is safe – that’s the most important thing right now. Football is not important right now – it’s about safety.”
Center Ali Marpet spoke about having to come back and make a 16-game run without a break.
“I am pretty sure other teams have done it before, and there is no reason we can’t,” Marpet said. “So we will probably have to adjust practices accordingly, but Dirk is smart about it.”
One of the factors that undoubtably was factored into the league’s decision was the difficulty playing at a neutral site out and state while a potential 185-mph hurricane was blasting Miami.
“I would imagine it would be tough for Miami players (more so),” Marpet said. “But safety comes first, so whatever the league decides… the game is off so I respect that decision. But it would have probably been a massive distraction for the game. So it was probably a good call from the league.”