Community Leaders Seek More Bills' Involvement

Community leaders hope Bills' players back up protests with actions.

BUFFALO, N.Y. - From holding football camps, to charitable foundations and hospital appearances, many of the Buffalo Bills are involved in the community and their home communities.

But some leaders in Buffalo some feel the situation, in the wake of the NFL protests, could be one of those galvanizing moments for the NFL, its players, and the cities they play in. 

2 On Your Side spoke with community leaders here in Buffalo who hope there could be a stronger commitment to help improve conditions from the playing field to the streets.

Players say they have a unique platform as professionals in the National Football League to stress their views. But questions were raised last May about how much they actually know about the city they represent. City Council President Darius Pridgen spoke on a Facebook video back then about a Bills rookie tour of the area.
He said "Take'em to the places that are rough. Take 'em because...if they came from the hood and many of them did...and now they see the hood in the city that they represent...maybe they would be more involved in the hood."
  
Pridgen says Bills team officials and some of the Bills themselves did follow up with him or others with the idea of an expanded tour.
 
"To really begin to introduce some of the Bills to some of the other sides of town that they might not be exposed to. Some of the Bills did reach out to different people in the community to say please let 'em know we're at this event or we want to be more involved," Pridgen said. 
 
We have seen Bills players like Marcell Dareus donating $10,000 dollars and dropping by at a YMCA Christmas Party in Buffalo last December. And of course many players are involved in their home communities, or with their namesake foundations that are 501 C non-profit charitable organizations.
 
With the inspiration of sports legend Muhammed Ali, Pastor James Giles of the Buffalo Peacemakers strives to prevent street violence and counsel troubled youth. Giles pointed out: "To who much is given...much is required and we'd like to see the Bills do more." 
 
Giles then added: 'When young people feel like they can't make it in school then they're next thing is trying to make it on the streets. So to have someone of the character of a Buffalo bill professional ballplayer come in to address that...to speak with, to work with, inner city with community agencies that are directly involved in trying to eradicate violence in the community that would go huge."       
 
This Channel 2 Reporter had long conversations with a Bills spokesman who stressed they hold numerous community events with players, which we as a station do not cover. And the team's Community Relations Department forwarded a list of 18 such events.
 
But the spokesman declined an on camera interview for response on whether there could be more specific inner city involvement. 

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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