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Did Bills Mafia start sports’ next great tradition?

Did Bills Mafia start sports’ next great tradition?

On
the
last
play
in
the
third
quarter
of

Saturday’s
Baltimore-Buffalo
playoff
game,
Ravens
quarterback

Lamar
Jackson
was
knocked
to
the
ground
and
slammed
his
head
on
the
turf.

He
spent
the
rest
of
the
game
in
concussion
protocol.

Watching
from
his
home
in
Tonawanda,
New
York,
Bills
fan
William
Burke
felt
uneasy.
There
was
no
question
that,
competitively
speaking,
having
Jackson
out
of
the
game
was
a
good
thing
for
his
team.
Buffalo
would,
indeed,
advance
to

Sunday’s
AFC
championship
game
against
Kansas
City.

Still,
no
one
wants
to
win

that

way.

“I
said,
‘This
is
not
how
this
should
have
gone
down,’

Burke
said.
“I
wanted
the
Bills
to
win,
but
with
Lamar
Jackson,
I
love
the
guy.
He’s
a
hell
of
a
player.
He’s
a
hell
of
a
guy.”

Ravens
quarterback
Lamar
Jackson
reacts
after
being
injured
in
the
divisional
round
against
the
Bills.
(AP
Photo/Adrian
Kraus)

Burke,
23,
decided
to
do
something
about
it.
Along
with
fellow
Bills
fan
Dan
Konopski,
they
jointly
posted
on
social
media
that
maybe
Buffalo
fans
could
donate
$8
(Jackson’s
jersey
number)
to
the
charity
that
the
2019
NFL
MVP
works
with,

“Blessings
in
a
Backpack.”

The
Louisville,
Kentucky-based
organization
serves
school
kids
who
receive
government-funded
lunch
by
providing
them
food
to
carry
them
through
the
weekend.
Jackson,
a
South
Florida
native,
became
associated
with
it
after
winning
the
2016
Heisman
Trophy
at
the
University
of
Louisville.

Burke
sent
out
the
idea
on
Twitter.
Konopski
posted
to
a
Bills-centric
Reddit
feed.
The
goal
was
small.
They
figured
a
few
people
would
see
it.
They
had
read
that
Blessings
in
a
Backpack
can
feed
a
single
child
for
an
entire
school
year
for
just
$130.
Maybe
Bills
fans
could
feed
a
couple
of
kids.

“I
thought
it
might
raise
$200,
$300,”
Burke
said.
“Then
it
took
off.”

Nikki
Grizzle
is
the
chief
marketing
officer
for
Blessings
in
a
Backpack.
She
had
no
idea
what
a
couple
of
Bills
fans
were
up
to
until
the
man
who
monitors
the
charity’s
website
sent
out
a
staff-wide
text
on
Sunday
morning.

“We
get
a
notification
every
time
someone
donates,”
Grizzle
said.
“And
when
there
are
suddenly
400
donations
on
a
Sunday
morning
in
the
middle
of
January,
he
said,
‘Did
anybody
know
this
was
happening
and
forget
to
tell
me?’

Grizzle
and
her
coworkers
went
online
to
see
for
themselves
as
the
donations
from
Buffalo
flew
in.

“By
the
time
I
looked,
the
400
was
up
to
1,500,”
Grizzle
marveled.

By
noon
on
Wednesday,
some
16,450
individual
donations
in
Jackson’s
honor
had
been
made.
The
total
amount
given
is
now
over
$458,000.
And
counting.

“Flabbergasted,”
Grizzle
said.

“It’s
crazy,”
Burke
said.

The
amount
was
so
overwhelming
that
the
charity
decided
to
expand
the
program
beyond
Louisville,
adding
kids
in
Baltimore,
Buffalo
and
beyond.

The
guys
who
started
it
can
hardly
believe
it,
although
maybe
they
should
have.

Bills
fans
have
recently
embraced
a
philanthropic
bent.
In
2017,
they
donated
to
the
charity
of
then
Cincinnati
quarterback

Andy
Dalton
to
thank
him
for
winning
a
game
that
helped
the
Bills
reach
the
playoffs.
Then
earlier
this
season,
they
raised
$1
million
for
a
local
children’s
hospital
in
the
name
of
the
grandmother
of

Bills
QB
Josh
Allen.
Many
of
those
donations
were
for
$17,
Allen’s
jersey
number.

“It’s
Buffalo,”
Burke
said.
“We
are
the
city
of
good
neighbors.
When
we
see
something
happen
that
we
don’t
think
is
right,
we
make
it
right.”

Still,
this
was
such
a
spur
of
the
moment
idea,
as
much
about
appreciating
an
opposing
player
as
anything
else.

Jackson
is
an
electrifying
star
but
also
someone
who
comes
across
as
a
likable,
genuine
person.

He
has
thanked
Bills
fans
on
social
media.
The
charity
says
he’s
overwhelmed
at
the
gesture.

“He’s
amazed,”
Grizzle
said.

“This
is
what
we
do,”
Burke
said
of
Bills
fans.
“It’s
not
going
to
be
the
last
one.
I
may
not
be
the
one
to
start
the
next
one,
but
there
will
be
a
next
one.”

The
hope
is
maybe
this
concept
expands
to
other
fan
bases,
even
other
sports.
In
a
time
of
division
and
tension
and
need,
there
is
something
special
about
acknowledging
someone
on
a
rival
team
by
kicking
in
a
few
bucks
for
a
good
cause.

A
little
appreciation
can
go
a
long,
long
way.

“All
I
know
is
that
two
guys
watching
football
on
their
couch
in
Buffalo
changed
the
fortunes
of
a
children’s
charity,”
Grizzle
said.
“It’s
what
the
world
needs
right
now.”


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from
Yahoo
Sports:


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