Orchard Park, N.Y. — While the Buffalo Bills were celebrating their 21-12 win over the New York Jets, Ryan Davis sat in the corner of the locker room scrolling through his phone.
He was relieved to a get a win over a division opponent and get his first game as a Bill under his belt. But after three hours of football, his mind shifted back to Hurricane Irma, which was barreling toward his hometown of Tampa, Fla. While he was removing his gear, his family and friends were preparing for the storm.
“They’re good,” Davis said. “They’re going to ride it out. It’s tough when they tell you that. At the same time, kind of wish they were in a better place. I wanted them to come up here at least for the week, but they all hunkered down, boarded up the house, put bags around the house. They’re all going to be together at my brother’s house, so we’re going to see what happens.”
It’s a helpless feeling. More than 1,200 miles separate Tampa from Buffalo. While Davis was trying to devote as much of his focus and energy as he could on preparing for his debut, he spent the weekend glued to the weather channel. It was a delicate balancing act.
“For me, being in my sixth year, I’m used to it,” Davis said. “At the same time, you think about your family. My brother told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. We’re going to be all right. Just go out there and play. Try not to focus on that.’ That’s what I went out and tried to do out there today. I think they’ll be fine. I was born and raised there. That’s everybody. That’s my whole upbringing. It’s everybody. It’s a lot.”
In a way, Davis was relieved to drive over to New Era Field on Sunday morning. He needed a break.
“That’s really all I’ve been doing is checking the Irma path since I don’t know where it’s going to go,” Davis said. “So having the game, yeah, this was good to take my mind off things for three hours. Once I shower up, I’ll probably call my family and check on them.”
By Sunday night, the storm had ripped through Naples and was heading toward Tampa as a category two storm with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. Football will be far from Davis’ mind for the rest of the day.
“I’ve been texting everybody right now,” Davis said. “They’re all in one place together, so if communications do go down, they’re together. They’re not going to be out looking for anybody. Nobody’s going to be in trouble, hopefully. Everything hopefully will pass over and they’ll be alright. That’s what I find comfort in. If I can’t reach them, I know they’re together.”