BUFFALO, N.Y. — As Bills fans recover from that very difficult to accept Bills loss, there is some encouraging news about the ongoing efforts of the Bills Mafia to embrace the players and really do good things for this community and others.
2 On Your Side has more on the response of the very generous fans to the news about the season-ending injury to Bills safety Micah Hyde.
The news hit hard for Bills fans on Saturday as Micah Hyde's neck injury will keep him out for the rest of the season. And Bills Mafia was on it like a key interception or recovering an opponent's fumble.
Del Reid was naturally leading the charge with knowledge of Hyde's Imagine For Youth Foundation.
"My phone lit up and it said that Micah Hyde was out for the season - obviously not great news to hear. But I immediately put out a Tweet and I think it said something like uh - 'You guys know what to do,' or something like that. I just mentioned the uh non-profit - made a donation myself. Went back to watching the show I was watching. And then I checked back later and it seems like a lot of people jumped on board. He loves to use his position to help others. And he has that charity Imagine for Youth. So it was really simple. It took like five seconds to figure out what to do in this case."
Tracy Troxel is the Executive Director of Imagine for Youth and immediately on Saturday he saw the results of Reid's Tweet and actions by members of Bills Mafia. "My phone started blowing up Saturday morning wanting to know why our website was crashing. I hadn't seen the news yet that he was gonna be placed on the IR. I figured that the Bills Mafia was starting to do what the Bills Mafia does whenever one of their football players has something like that happen."
So now up to $37,000 and counting from Bills Mafia members for Hyde's charity which is based in his hometown of Fostoria, Ohio. Those donations will help Imagine for Youth continue its work for kids and adults in Western New York, Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa.
Troxel explains, "We do things like Kicks for Kids. In Western New York we've done about 800 pairs of shoes - a pair of Nikes since 2017. Pre-COVID we used to have a Thanksgiving party and Christmas parties for all the kids - maybe we'll be able to get back to that this year. We do a backpack drive every year. We've done up there in the Buffalo region about 500 or more backpacks for kids."
Also, there was a charity softball game with Bills players in May at Sahlen Field after the 5/14 Tops shooting. The Bills matched the $100,000 raised from the softball game for the victim's families and community.
"I was texting with him over the weekend and a little bit this morning. And he is just taken aback by the love that the community has shown for us and for him and everything. And so - yeah that Bills Mafia - they're a special group of folks and so we appreciate it," Troxel said.
Of course, we've seen this before - like in 2018 as then Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton helped get the Bills in the playoffs, and eventually, Bills Mafia members sent over $100,000 to his Cincinnati foundation for seriously ill children.
"It really is a different vibe here in Buffalo when it comes to how we look out for each other. In terms of other fanbases doing the same, following the playoff game last year I know that I spoke to a couple of Chiefs fans that organized it. They put together an effort to support Josh Allen's charity. I believe it was with Oishei Children's Hospital. And they specifically mentioned that Bills fans - actually 'Bills Mafia' was the inspiration. So I'd like to think that if we're gonna be any kind of trendsetters that that's - more than just Bills Mafia - Buffalo in general. I think that's a great thing to be known for is you know - giving," Reid of the Bills Mafia says.
And maybe there is a connection with the beloved Bills which is even stronger since our City of Good Neighbors is the second smallest NFL market. Reid agrees. "Like a large college town - right? In that respect when it comes to our relationship with our sports teams. You know the players are members of the community and I think the fans look at them that way."