Sunday night’s match between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will continue to be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa as initially scheduled, the NFL announced Thursday.
The NFL had selected U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as a contingency site for the game after the Bucs had evacuated the area because of Hurricane Ian.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the many thousands in the Southwest Florida region who have been severely impacted by Hurricane Ian,” the Bucs said in a statement Thursday. “We are also very thankful that the Tampa Bay area was spared the most damaging consequences of this powerful storm.
“We have informed the NFL, after consulting with local and state agencies, that we are ready to play Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium as originally scheduled.”
The Bucs also voiced gratitude to first responders and emergency personnel “who are already battling the elements, saving lives, and helping our neighbors in those most impacted areas to our south.” Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady hopes the game can help bring people together for “a common good.”
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“I always feel like sports has brought people together over a long period of time,” Brady stated. And watching different adversities — whether that was 9/11, whether that was [Hurricane] Katrina — sports has an amazing way of kind healing wounds and bringing people together and bringing communities together in something to cheer for and a common interest and a common good. So I think anytime you can participate in things like that, it’s a great feeling.
“… After what so many people have gone through in the state, it’s great to go out there and give them something to cheer about.”
Tampa mayor Jane Castor took to Twitter on Thursday to quip that she has “assured the @NFL that the only disturbance here Sunday is when the Bucs kick ass.”
The Buccaneers relocated their players, coaches and some of their families to the South Florida area and have been practicing at the Miami Dolphins’ facility.
Wide receiver Mike Evans stated he hoped the Bucs could be a “bright spot” after everything the region has gone through this week.
“I definitely wanted to be at the home,” Evans said Thursday. “I’m happy I get to go out there and entertain and it’s a blessing and I don’t take it for granted. I know we’re going through a tough time right now, so hopefully we can be a bright spot during this time.”
The Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, will donate $1 million to assist relief efforts, it was announced. The team said the money will be given to “organizations that are providing support to those who have been most impacted by the storm in Southwest Florida and throughout the state.”
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