In anticipation of an intense snowstorm, the NFL announced on Thursday, November 17 that the Buffalo Bills‘ upcoming matchup against the Cleveland Browns would no longer take place at Highmark Stadium, and due to public safety reasons, both teams will instead face off at Ford Field in Detroit in Week 11.
On Friday, November 18, residents of Erie County woke up to nearly four feet of snow, per the National Weather Service, and the Bills were forced to cancel practice since no one could safely make it to the training facility. Instead, players and coaches met virtually, the team announced.
As of Friday afternoon, Orchard Park remains under a travel ban, per WKBW, but Bills head coach Sean McDermott told reporters that the team still plans to fly out on Saturday. “We want to head out tomorrow as close to the normal time as possible,” he said. “However, again, seeing what’s happening around us right now, just want to make sure that all the staff and players’ families are safe and dug out before we want to try to get out of here, just so everyone’s mind is in the right spot, knowing that their families are all safe.”
The question of how or if Buffalo will be able to make it to Detroit became a major topic on Twitter after CBS Sports‘ Josina Anderson reported, “League source on #Bills/ snow: “This is a major impact. There’s currently a travel ban… Snow is coming down hard right now. I don’t know what’s the contingency if everyone can’t make it to the airport or we can’t fly out.”
Per the NFL’s guidelines, a team “must be in the game city” 18 hours before kickoff, however, there’s no explicit rule as to how early a team could arrive. Back in 2003, the Baltimore Ravens left for San Diego three days early in order to get out of town before Hurricane Isabel hit the Maryland area, per Bleacher Report.
While WGR 550‘s Sal Capaccio reported that “one of the issues” that kept the Bills from getting out of dodge early “was securing a charter when one wasn’t already planned,” team was slammed on Twitter for not preparing better.
Pro Football Talk tweeted, “How are the Bills going to get out of Buffalo for Sunday’s game at Detroit and why didn’t they go yesterday?” while one man tweeted in jest, “It’s a shame that they didn’t have any warning.” Meteorologist Katie Nickaloau tweeted, “We predicted this a week in advance… .”
There’s a prediction that the snowstorm will clear enough on Saturday afternoon to allow the team to fly out, but it’s impossible to know if the weather will cooperate or if the conditions will be safe enough to leave. “I want to be very clear: This is not your normal snowfall in the city of Buffalo or in the region,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said on Friday, per CNN. “This is a snowstorm with potentially deadly consequences if people do not do the right thing.”
Bills Players Shared Wild Snowstorm Photos & Videos From Their Homes
Several Bills players shared photos and videos of what their homes looked like after the thundersnow storm hit. Von Miller tweeted, “Good Morning Buffalo,” with a video showing his car completely buried under the snow, while safety Damar Hamlin also shared the view from his front door and asked, “Who got a snow mobile in Buffalo? 🏎”
Tight end Quintin Morris retweeted Hamlin’s post and wrote, “Pick me up too I’m down street 😂.”
Offensive tackle Spencer Brown tweeted, “I don’t own a shovel, my trash can lid is about to put in that work.”
Wide receivers Gabe Davis and Isaiah Mckenzie, running back James Cook, tight end Dawson Knox, and many more shared videos on their Instagram stories on Friday that show a complete whiteout in their yards. On the bright side, McDermott said that this storm and the adversity it presents can help further bond the team.
“When you share experiences like this, I think it has it has a chance to bring your team closer together,” McDermott told reporters on Friday, per New York Upstate. “And I think there’s a lot of good to that. You can get some good energy from things like this, some good continuity and chemistry. And I think there’s some good to it when guys pull together and rally for a cause here.”
The Bills are Still Planning to Fly Home in Between Back-to-Back Games in Detroit
If the Bills were playing a regular Sunday game in Week 12 instead of in primetime on Thursday, November 24, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said their Week 10 matchup against the Browns could’ve been pushed to Monday and the game could’ve still been played in Orchard Park, per WROC-TV‘s Thad Brown.
However, the Lions are the Bills’ upcoming Week 12 opponent, which means Buffalo will once again play in Detroit on Thanksgiving, just four days after facing off against the Browns at Ford Field, assuming the team can make it there on Saturday.
While many people assumed that the Bills would stay in Detroit for the week, that’s not the plan. “Beane says the team will try to keep a normal schedule and head home from the game on Sunday even though Buffalo will be back in Detroit for Thanksgiving,” Bills reporter Maddy Glab tweeted. Of course, if the Bills are unable to fly back into Buffalo due to the inclement weather, those plans could change.
Anderson tweeted on Friday, “When I asked if there was any thought to the Bills just staying in Detroit, given TNF is there after they play the Browns…I was told their current understanding is that the #Bills would return… not to mention it’s Thanksgiving wk & folks want as much time around family.”