TAMPA (WFLA) — As Hurricane Irma continues to strengthen and possibly head towards Florida, members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization say football is not important at the moment.
“The number one thing any of us should be thinking about is the safety of everyone involved. Not just our people, but everybody’s families and the communities,” head coach Dirk Koetter said Wednesday. “This is a natural disaster. Football takes a backseat to all of that.”
On Wednesday morning, the NFL announced the Buccaneers season opener against the Miami Dolphins would not be played in Miami on Sunday as scheduled, due to Hurricane Irma. Instead, the game will take place at the Hard Rock Stadium on November 19. Week 11 was originally a bye week for both the Bucs and the Dolphins. The change means the Bucs will play 16 weeks straight during the season.
“I wanted to play but the NFL controls it. The one thing they can’t control is the weather,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “Obviously nobody wanted it, but it is what it is.”
“We’ve got to control what we can control,” quarterback Jameis Winston said. “Of course we were all excited and wanted to play and see how we would do, but safety is the most important thing. Taking care of our families is very important right now.”
Winston said right now, he’s not focused on football.
“I’m just concerned about people’s families. This is bigger than football. I just want everybody to be safe, especially my teammates on the road, catching flights,” he said. “Hopefully everybody is safe, that’s the most important thing right now. Football is not important right now, it’s about safety.”
Both Winston and McCoy talked about leaving, but Koetter says he and his family are staying in the Tampa Bay area and says they will be safe.
“I’ve never been through a hurricane and the projections they make, I’m a little nervous,” he said. “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.”
The Bucs are now off until Tuesday. Coach Koetter admits he’s also nervous about the logistics of players getting back into town if they leave.
“That’s why we have to be flexible on Tuesday,” he said. “I’m standing here now hoping we’re good to go on Tuesday. I don’t know that.”
HURRICANE IRMA COVERAGE –
- The latest on Hurricane Irma from Storm Team 8
- 2017 Hurricane Guide
- Hurricane Irma: County-by-county updates on storm preparations
- CHECKLIST: Disaster supply list for hurricane
- Where to get sandbags in the Tampa Bay area
- How to get water even if the stores are out
- Hurricane Irma: Local school districts to decide about closures
- The one thing you must do for your pet as Irma approaches
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Miami Dolphins game moved to November 19
- Gov. Scott declares state of emergency in all Fla. counties in response to Hurricane Irma
- Gov. Scott encouraging Floridians to be prepared for hurricane
- AG Bondi activates Florida’s price gouging hotline in wake of declared state of emergency
- Bottled water, supplies going fast as Tampa Bay area prepares for possibility of Hurricane Irma
- Tampa Bay area residents need to get hurricane plans in place while skies still blue