How the Bucs mobilized 300 folks, 18 dogs and a rabbit to south Florida

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TAMPA — Tim Jarocki obtained dwelling this weekend in time for his household to host a birthday sleepover for his daughter and 9 of her 10-year-old girlfriends. They performed video games, and earlier than it was over, he was coated in Foolish String.

However the Bucs director of staff operations was by no means extra joyful to be again in Tampa. He was grateful for some normalcy after endeavor the duty of relocating the Bucs for 4 days to keep away from the potential path of Hurricane Ian.

About 300 gamers, coaches, trainers, assist employees and their households — even 18 dogs and a rabbit — moved into the Marriott Biscayne Bay or a spillover resort for 4 days so the staff may put together for Sunday evening’s recreation towards the Chiefs.

The self-described “sky is falling ops man” mentioned he watches the Climate Channel from Could to November. When Jarocki noticed the tropical disturbance pop up by Venezuela, he despatched emails to the Bucs’ hurricane contingency group.

“Because it obtained shut, we began speaking it to (head coach) Todd (Bowles) and (basic manger) Jason (Licht) and (chief working officer Brian Ford,” Jarocki mentioned.

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David runs out of the tunnel carrying the state of Florida flag earlier than Sunday’s recreation. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Bucs had been via the same expertise when Hurricane Irma canceled the season opener towards Miami in 2017 and the staff evacuated to Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Primarily based on Irma again in ‘17, we got here up with a plan,” Jarocki mentioned. “I knew at that time, a metropolis in every time zone the place we may consider going, relying on the place it was going and what a part of the schedule it was hitting. Do we’ve got a house or an away recreation or whatnot?

“Primarily based on the observe that was exhibiting, I began my East Coast choices in addition to central. I used to be Charlotte, the place we went to again in ‘17. The primary possibility for lots of groups is the Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia.”

The advantage of Greenbriar was it had every little thing the Bucs’ wanted — 120 rooms, two grass fields, a turf discipline, locker room and assembly area.

However to fly massive aircrafts into the realm, they must land in Richmond or Roanoke. The Dallas metro space additionally was an possibility with the Rangers’ outdated baseball stadium in Arlington, Texas.

When Hurricane Ian started monitoring away from south Florida, Miami grew to become the most suitable choice.

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What number of could be touring? “I had nearly 400 simply because we had been within the technique of RSVPing,” Jarocki mentioned. “Who’re you bringing? Who’re you evacuating? On the identical time we had been getting pets. Rabbits and horses.”

Wait, rabbits? Who had a rabbit?

Rookie guard Luke Goedeke has had a rabbit named Cletus for 3 years.

The Bucs chartered two planes to Miami Worldwide Airport on Tuesday. Some selected to drive. The whole lot was arrange in 24 hours.

However by Tuesday evening, feeder bands dumped rain on Miami.

“The defensive assembly room began leaking and we had a waterfall,” Jarocki mentioned. “The resort was below building. All through the week we’re coping with them renovating sleeping rooms, folks’s infants attempting to sleep with jackhammering happening and clearly the one assembly room with water in every single place. Fortunately it didn’t begin coming down within the meal room.”

Everybody tailored. “Tuesday evening once we obtained there, it was like a household ambiance,” Jarocki mentioned. “It was really very comforting seeing the youngsters working round.”

They created a household room so children may have a spot to play and run round.

It wasn’t ideally suited. Gamers needed to stroll via the principle entrance. They strolled out and in of the resort carrying helmets and carrying cleats.

The truth is, as a result of the sport may have been relocated to Denver or Minneapolis, they needed to pack all their uniforms and gear.

They needed to make contingency plans to get households again to Tampa Bay if the sport was performed elsewhere. There was a visitors deadlock attributable to flooding on I-75 and it took the Bucs’ gear truck 12 hours to return dwelling Saturday morning.

However the Bucs obtained three days of apply on the Dolphins’ coaching complicated.

Again in Tampa, they wanted extra resort rooms in case folks had been unable to return to their properties.

“Actually, we did our greatest to show it right into a highway recreation,” Jarocki mentioned. “At occasions, you possibly can inform it wasn’t.”

Photos: Bucs face Kansas City Chiefs

The final time these groups confronted off at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay gained Tremendous Bowl 55. The Bucs might be searching for some early-season magic within the rematch.

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