- The Bills say they never asked for a police escort to get home amid the Christmas weekend blizzard.
- “We did not ask for or receive special treatment,” The Bills’ executive vice president and COO said.
- Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the Bills asked for an escort from Rochester to Buffalo.
The Buffalo Bills denied that they ever asked for a police escort to get home after their return from Chicago amid the city’s major Christmas weekend blizzard.
Insider reported on Wednesday that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz had said the Bills asked for a police escort during a driving ban imposed on the city over the weekend and were shot down in compliance with the ban because they were not “essential workers.”
But, according to the football team, that’s not exactly how things went down.
Ron Raccuia, Bills’ executive vice president and COO, told The Buffalo News that the team made a “very difficult decision” to return to storm-ridden Buffalo, New York, after their away game against the Chicago Bears on Saturday because their 150-plus traveling party wanted to be home for Christmas. Raccuia that they “tried to do it as safely as possible.”
He denied ever asking for a police escort from county officials or state police to help them get home.
“We made sure that we were not diverting any resources needed in any part of our community, whatsoever,” Raccuia told The Buffalo News. “We were in constant communication not only with them, as well as other agencies throughout Western New York, from the day we left for Chicago on Thursday until the day we returned. But we did not ask for or receive special treatment. We would not do that.”
When asked for a response to the Bills’ denial of his account, a representative for Poloncarz’s office told Insider that “the County Executive is done talking about the Bills.” He added that “lots of people who weren’t the Bills drove around during the storm.”
The Buffalo Bills did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
When the Bills landed in Rochester after their Saturday road win in Chicago, nearby Buffalo was being pounded with heavy snow and up to 70-mile-per-hour winds. The storm left dozens of people dead.
Poloncarz had said at a Wednesday press conference that when the team landed, the Bills asked the Erie County Sheriff’s Office for an escort back to Buffalo about a 75-mile drive west, despite the travel ban.
Poloncarz said their request was denied because sheriff’s deputies were responding to “life-threatening situations.” So the team drove themselves.
“They were not allowed to travel. They did,” Poloncarz said. “At that time, there was actually heavy snow still. I don’t want anybody to think that Erie County gave preferential treatment to the Bills.”
—Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) December 28, 2022
Buffalo Police did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.