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Conference Call with Head Coach Doug Marrone: RE - The snow

Posted November 19th, 2014 4:04pm

 Head Coach Doug Marrone, Senior VP/Communications Scott Berchtold and VP Operations and Guest Experience Andy Major
Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
 
Q: Opening Comments
A: Scott Berchtold: Just to briefly summarize what we’ve been going through here, we got four feet of snow at the stadium and they’re predicting another two to three more feet for tomorrow. There’s a driving ban in Orchard Park, so many of us are not at the stadium. I’ve been asked all morning and yesterday about the possibility of the game being postponed. I can just tell you right now, we’re preparing to play this game at the stadium for Sunday at 1 o’clock. We’ve had conversations with the league and we’ll continue to have those conversations as time goes on. Moving forward, we’re still planning to play this game on Sunday a 1 o’clock, just as we always had. If things change because of snow and all of that, we’ll have to look at that and we’re in conversations with the league. It’s the league that would determine if it changed with the game. It’s not either one of the teams. It’s the league that determines that.
 
Q: How has the weather impacted your weekly routine?
Coach Marrone: Obviously, it affects a normal week. We’re here trying to work out getting information out to our players. First and foremost, we’re making sure everyone is safe and they abide by the rules with the driving ban. That’s our number one situation to take care of. Then, obviously, you start focusing on the game and getting ready to play. With the technology that we have, videotape and installations, we’re getting those out to the players with the game plans and the film. All of the things that we would’ve been able to do with the players here at practice, we’re trying to get as much as we can to them.
 
Q: Do you anticipate that this weather will hamper the team’s ability to prepare for Sunday?
A: It’s a great challenge, but I think we’re relying on the people that make those decisions. With the driving ban, we’re not going to put any of our players, coaches or support staff in any kind of jeopardy. It’s a safety issue first. We’re monitoring that and waiting for that word of when we can start to operate like we normally would.
 
Q: Talk about what happened yesterday morning.
A: Early in the morning, we were stuck on I-90; myself, Coach (Jim) Schwartz and Pepper Johnson. I think it really started there and the stories about the other people. I know a State Trooper came in, we could get off the exit and he was able to block things, tell us to have some snow removal, reverse the traffic, get us off the exit. I tried to come in and I wound up getting about five miles from the office. I was right outside Mercy Hospital. It was tough. You see people trying to get to the hospital. You see emergency employees, nurses and doctors, trying to get to the hospital. I can’t say enough about the people of Buffalo. It’s a really unbelievable experience. People were helping each other. People were helping get people to the hospital. People from the hospital were going out. The people were trying to plow snow from the streets. I don’t think words can describe it, whether it was different people from different areas, everyone was just trying to help each other. It was really an amazing sight to see. I was just trying to do my part, but my part was very limited compared to other people and how brave they were getting people to and from the hospital.
 
Q: Do you have greater concerns about the stadium being accessible or do you have greater concerns about your team being prepared?
A: I would say, with my experience yesterday, my greater concern is with the people trying to get to and from the hospital. Obviously, it’s not something that I can do anything about being here. After what I saw yesterday, that’s my concern first. When it comes to our organization, it’s the safety of the players to make sure them, the support staff in the organization and everyone is safe and whatever we can do to help anyone that might be in distress.
 
Q: Do you have to go into Thursday Night game mode preparation-wise?
A: We really don’t know exactly what’s going to happen with the weather reports for tonight. Obviously, the information is in hand, but being able to go out there and practice is not an option for us. When those things open, then we’re going to have to make changes in our schedule to make sure that we’re prepared to play a game.
 
Q: Does it help that you’re familiar with the Jets?
A: The New York Jets are a great team. They create great challenges. It’s a matter of the practice and making sure you’re prepared. That’s the challenge right now.
 
Q: Do you see a way that you can fairly play this game in Buffalo this week?
A: That’s something that I don’t control, so we’re doing everything that we can to prepare a team to go out there and win a game. That’s not the decision that I’ve been asked by the league or by anyone. We’re doing the best we can with what we have, just like everybody else in this area.
 
Q: What challenges will be placed on your medical staffs for injuries that haven’t been able to be treated normally the past few days?
A: I’ve talked to our medical staff. Honestly, I’ve been in constant communication with them. I just got off the phone with Bud Carpenter about an hour ago, our second call of the day. I was making sure that our players understand how to treat themselves and do the things that they need to do to help themselves. The one thing about professional players is that they know how to take care of their bodies. I really believe that we’re doing everything we can as a training staff, even from the weight coaches and what they’re doing for the players. We’re doing everything from a proactive standpoint to make sure that we’re giving our players all the information they need to be in their best shape when the ban is lifted.
 
Q: Can you compare this to anything else that you’ve ever been through in football?
A: The only thing is New Orleans the one year where we had to evacuate from the hurricane and had to move the operations to Indy. I think it’s tough. You don’t want to compare it to other things and say that this is worse than that. I think this is very challenging. For me, I think the hardest part or the most recognizable part of it was being in front of a hospital while I was stuck. It made you realize a lot of other things that are definitely more critical than even me getting to the stadium. I think it’s a challenge. We’re all challenged here. Everyone is doing the best job they can to get it resolved. It’s a tough, tough situation. I’ve never been part of this. Being a New York state native, this brings me to the 70’s and the big storm we had back then.
 
Q: Is this something your guys can rally around?
A: I don’t know about rallying around or things of that nature right now. I think our concern is with our families. We’re trying to make sure that we’re prepared to do our job when the ban is lifted. I really don’t know. I haven’t been able to be in front of the team. I’ve talked to some players, but I really don’t know.
 
Q: Do you have anything for the injury report?
A: Yeah, it’s going to come out later. The only player that we weren’t going to practice was Jarius Wynn. Other than that, everybody else would have been practice. Scott [Berchold] will release later who is limited and all of that.
 
Q: Can you give us a sense of how many people in your organization are stranded at the stadium?
A: We have stadium ops people here. We have the coaches here. The support staffs for the coaches are here, whether it be video. Dining has someone here. We’re all doing what everybody else is doing. We’re trying to make the best of the situation and help each other.
 
Q: How are you personally feeling as the head coach of this team? How are you handling this mentally?
A: Mentally, it’s the same thing. You make sure that you’re family is safe and the people that you work with are safe. From there, you start strategically planning how you go about getting a team prepared for a game that we might be playing on Sunday. I think that leadership is key; not having an ego and doing the best job you possibly can and make the best decisions for everybody. I think it’s not as difficult as people may think it is. As far as what the course of action of what my role is, I think I’d be doing what any one of you would do.
 
Q: Is it easier to handle because it’s out of your control?
A: Yeah, because it’s the weather. That is the one element for sure and it’s a major element up here. I’ve never seen anything like it. Words can’t really explain and I was out there, so it’s a little bit different for me. My wife was asking me what’s it like and it’s hard to explain. When these things happen, like the post-Katrina – and I’m not comparing it to that – and even the snowstorm in ‘77, it’s very difficult to put in words exactly what’s going on. It’s just a very, very difficult and challenging situation, not just for our organization and football team, but for the region.
 
Q: Did you and the coaching staff stay overnight at the facility?
A: Yep. Obviously, we’re going to be smart, we’re going to be safe. Last night, we stayed. We stayed and we’re fine. Believe me, we have it better than a lot of people. There are coaches on our staff that have lost power at their homes and things of that nature. That’s critical when you’re talking about loved ones and family and children. We’re making sure we’re doing everything we can to support them and help them.
 
Q: What’s the plan for clean up?
Andy Major: The plan for us is to take care of the field first; clear the field, make sure it’s playable and get rid all the snow off that field so the guys can get out there and play the game. Getting the parking lots plowed. We know we’re going to lose a lot of parking spaces, based on the amount of snow. Getting parking lots cleared so fans can actually park and get into the spaces. Then, we’re going to tackle the concourses, the gates, the stands, the stairs, the seats. That’s all a coordinated effort with our stadium operations team and all of the partners of the private staff that help us with the snow removal process. It’s a huge team process to get this done. We’ve faced some of this in the past. Usually, you saw a foot of snow you can probably clear the whole place in a three day period. We’re talking four feet of snow right now, plus another one to two feet coming. We know the guys and gals that are helping us out are stressed out to try to help and get this taken care of us. We’ve got the APB out. We’ve got a lot of extra help form private agencies. The county is doing the best they can to help us. I think, like Coach said, the first thing is making sure that people in the area are safe. If we can get assistance with the stadium cleanup then that’s great. We’re going full-blow right now. We’ve got a lot of people there at the stadium. We are looking for additional snow shovelers. There’s a phone number and information about trying to get additional snow shovelers on board to help us with snow removal. We’re playing staff $10 an hour. We’re going to provide game tickets to those staff that are snow shoveling that can help us work a certain number of hours. The phone number for those folks, if they’re interested in helping us out with snow shoveling, is 716-636-4840. We’ve got triple shifts going, 24 hours a day, from here until game time. We’re going to do everything we can to get that stadium safe for the players and the fans.
 
Q: How much staff are you thinking will help? How difficult have the travel bans made things?
AM: The ban on the travel in the town of Orchard Park and in some of the surrounding town, we have found that it’s been tough getting some of those folks over that would be usual snow shovelers and folks helping us out with snow removal. Most of the equipment is on site, which is great. There’s more equipment coming from Rochester and Syracuse, which will help us out with the snow removal process. It’ll certainly be helpful when the travel bans are lifted and some of the roads become more clear to get some of the staff over there. We’re hoping to have over 500 shovelers on sight, working those triple shifts to get where we need to get to in order to make sure that the game is played and played faithfully.
 
Q: Is that 500 people per shift or 500 over the three shifts?
AM: That would be 500 over the three shifts. We don’t have a minimum number. We can’t have too many people helping, so there’s no cut-off. That’s kind of where we want to be, but we’re open to having as many as possible help. We will definitely not be turning anybody away that’s coming out to shovel snow.
 
Q: How realistic is it to have the stadium ready for Sunday?
AM: It’s hard to tell. A lot of our partners and a lot of the staff working felt that, if we didn’t get any more snow from here on out, we would be fine and make it and get everything cleared and safe. Knowing that we have another one to two feet potentially coming overnight and Friday night, that just poses another challenge. We’re moving snow and having snow fall at the same time. Between Friday and Saturday, both forecasts for those days look favorable for no more snow falling. We’re just going to have to go 24/7, triple shifts and push forward to make sure that we have this place ready for Sunday. We’re going to be evaluating this every hour on the hour and seeing how we’re progressing, so we can keep in touch with the league, the county and the state with where we are and where we’re going to be.
 
Q: What are some the contingency plans if the game can’t be played on Sunday?
SB: All of those questions we’ll direct to the league. The league is who we will decided any of that. I’ll direct you to the league for those responses.

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