Let’s just say me and “squib kicks” don’t get along. My Sooners should have never done one at the end of the Rose Bowl first half last Monday and my hubby’s Buffalo Bills probably should have during their game against the Tennessee Titans back in January 2000. But enough of my bitterness, it’s time for some cheering and who better to lead us than Buffalo Bills fans. You know, those die-hard and hearty people who will do this for their team…
Call ‘em crazy, but as impressive as that is, what Bills fans are doing right now is even more impressive. They are making a difference in kids’ lives $17 at a time.
Yep, it’s true and is the story nightly news is covering and is revealing the hearts of Buffalo in a year when the NFL could use all the positivity it can get.
The Bills had not been to the NFL playoffs in 17 years, the longest drought going into the season. The last time they were there, it was that game against the Titans, now infamously known as the “Music City Miracle.”
Buffalo had taken the lead with a field goal that put them ahead 16-15 with 16 seconds left in the game. But, instead of kicking perhaps a squib kick to run out the clock (the hair on my arms is actually rising right now), Steve Christie kicked it away and the rest is NFL history and infamy. Tennessee ran the ball back for a TD and won the game 22-16. The Bills haven’t sniffed the playoffs since.
Thanks in part to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Granted, the Bills did their part by beating a team they cannot stand, the Miami Dolphins, in an early game last Sunday. Ironically the score, 22-16, was the same score as the Music City Miracle. Only this time the Bills were on the winning end. But they weren’t safe yet. They desperately needed another team to lose and that team was the Baltimore Ravens who were playing the Bengals. With a win, the Ravens would take the last playoff spot. With a win, the Bengals would go home anyway. The Ravens had everything to win and the Bengals had nothing to win. And the Ravens had the lead as time wound down.
This is where the magic happened. On fourth down and with 53 seconds left in the game, Bengal QB Andy Dalton threw a game-winning TD to receiver Tyler Boyd and just like that the Ravens were out and the Bills were in. For the first time in 17 years.
Soon after the immediate celebrations ended, Bills fans everywhere did something that is just as impressive as Dalton’s pass: they started donating to his AJD Foundation, which benefits seriously ill and physically challenged kids and their families en masse. They were that grateful for his heroics and they wanted to show it.
The story gets better.
They donated $17 apiece, you know in honor of those 17 years. And in living up to Buffalo’s “City of Good Neighbors” slogan, to date those $17 donations…more than 14,000 of them…have totaled over $300,000. Even Dalton is amazed and Tweeted his appreciation.
“Buffalo fans are a class act. They’re helping out a good cause. It’s been fun to see the reaction that we’ve gotten from them.”
I can say first-hand that yes, Bills fans are a class act. They are loyal to a fault and some of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve met. In the middle of their team’s glory, they are thinking of others even with tongues firmly planted in cheeks. And they are not done. Donations keep rolling in and they’ve also started rolling in to Boyd’s YouCaring page that offers recreational football leagues for kids in Pittsburgh. That number is now over $50,000.
“Thank you to the Bills entire fan base,” Boyd Tweeted out. “What great people you are. We have reached our goal!”
Dalton and his wife have since purchased five billboards in the Buffalo area, thanking the fans for their support and #billieve is trending. Nothing could make me happier (okay, maybe one thing, but again, breathe out the bitterness, breathe in the Bills) and this is a girl who watched those Bills lose four Super Bowls in a row. Yeah, this family knows all about football letdowns but still, if you’re a Bills fan, you always billieve.
You also love your wings, so what better way then to also thank the Bengals with some wings?
As promised, those wings are on their way. 1,440 of them. Personally I think it should have been 1,700 but who’s counting?
Now the Bills are off to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC Wildcard game. I’ll be thinking of all those Bills fans as I eat wings, root against my beloved Dede Westbrook, and hope the Bills win 22-16 or by at least 17 points. It would only be fitting.
Let’s go, Buffalo.