On Monday, the Buffalo Bills announced that they would be holding training camp in Orchard Park for the second consecutive year rather than making their way to St. John Fisher College. General Manager Brandon Beane addressed the media shortly after, citing COVID-19 restrictions as the primary reason the team would be staying home for camp.
Beane faced several questions regarding the vaccination rate among players as a potential hinderance to the team’s training camp plans, but he was insistent that those numbers did not play a role in the team’s decision.
Instead, he cited the league’s protocol for meeting and locker room requirements that ultimately made the college unrealistic as an option to hold training camp. He also expressed confidence in the unity of his team, explaining that the much-discussed controversy surrounding the Bills’ vaccination rates was a much hotter topic in the media than it has been within the locker room.
“We’ve had very mature conversations with the players about how OTAs would be structured and even regarding the vaccination decision. There’s respect for everyone,” Beane told reporters in a Zoom call Monday. “Even if we weren’t in agreement, we had good dialogue. That’s how you move on.”
Beane did acknowledge that the team is continuing to work on educating the team on the vaccine, but also understands that it’s a personal decision that is ultimately up to the players.
“We’re trying to stay out in front of it and educate our players. It’s a personal decision. Our locker room is strong and guys support each other. It won’t impact our season negatively, no matter the restrictions.”
Despite not being able to attend daily practices as they had in the past, Beane did leave the door open for fans to attend one or two sessions at Highmark Stadium in addition to the traditional team scrimmage held the week before the first preseason game. Another benefit of Buffalo holding training camp in Orchard Park is that the team will be able to utilize their state-of-the-art facilities, which Beane pointed at as a positive.
“The one thing is guys have access to our facilities. The Pegula’s put a lot of money in here,” Beane said. “The players are getting use out of it now and it’s very helpful. You can’t replicate what we have here. The reason for the getaway is that team camaraderie building, which still happens here, but just maybe not at night because guys have obligations at home, things that pull them away, whether that’s kids at games, or whatever else is going on. We have a great set up here and it’s not a negative, it’s really not. We love what we have here, we love the set up. From that standpoint I think it’ll be a very good camp.”
While it’s certainly disappointing for fans that they will not be able to spend their summer afternoons taking in training camp at St. John Fisher College, it’s likely for the best that the team remains home, like many other NFL teams are doing in recent years in order to make the most of their own facilities.
Stay tuned to Cover1 as we’ll keep you covered on the latest Bills news throughout training camp.