Skip to main content

Second home: How Bills players spend Christmas

Take a look at how some of your favorite Bills players and their families are celebrating the holidays.

They say there's no place like home for the holidays, but when you're an NFL player in the middle of a game week, celebrating at "home" isn't usually a viable option.

Whether from far-away California like Robert Woods, or nearby New Jersey like Chris Hogan, with Christmas bordered by normal full-length practice days, Bills players aren't often able to get back to their hometowns to celebrate with extended family.

But where "there's no place like home for the holidays" collides with "home is where the heart is" – bear with us for being corny – the Bills have redefined "home" during the Christmas season, and have found in each other a group of teammates and friends who have become a second family.

"It's tough being away from your family on the holidays, but it's nice to have another family here in Buffalo that you're able to go over to anybody's house really, and they bring you in as one of the family," said Hogan.

Hogan plans to spend Christmas dinner at Lee Smith's house, jumping in on the plans of some of his tight-knit tight end teammates.

"These guys all feel like my brothers. I never had a little brother growing up so now I have three little brothers, who don't get me gifts," Scott Chandler said, brimming with sarcasm. "That's the way little brothers treat older brothers. But in all seriousness, it's a good bond to have. It's a fun time and I'm glad I have these guys to share it with, even if they don't get me gifts."

Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik, Garrison Sanborn and other players who live in the same neighborhood rotate houses to celebrating both Thanksgiving and Christmas together.

"At Thanksgiving we all stood around the table and said a prayer beforehand, and I said I was thankful for the fact that we have this family away," said Sanborn. "We end up having about 20 people over with two monster tables full of people. We try to get everybody we can and have a blast."

For one Bill it's the best of both worlds in his first year home - in both senses of the word. Corey Graham grew up in Buffalo and having made his homecoming this year, he and his immediate family will get to celebrate as they so rarely do.

"It's going to be fun," said Graham. "I don't usually have the opportunity to be around my mom and my sisters so to be home and be around all my family, it'll be special. It's been a long time since I've been able to experience Christmas with the family."

Though most Bills aren't so lucky to play professional football where they grew up and their parents and siblings still live, when being home is more about who you're with than where you are, it seems that in their own way, they'll get to celebrate at "home" after all.

"We're able to come from all parts of the country – California, the northeast, Florida – and to have the opportunity to be with people who care about you and you care about them around the holidays is what it's all about," said Sanborn. "We're lucky we have that opportunity. "

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.