ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Dick DeGroat's creative genius was never intended for public consumption.
Nope, his original parody of Elton John's "Benny and the Jets" — a casual, low-production video shot on a cell phone — was just DeGroat's way of inviting his kids over to watch the Bills game in his basement. It was Week 1, back in September, and the Bills were playing the New York Jets.
"Can... can... can we beat the Jets?" DeGroat sang convincingly, standing in the middle of his kitchen outside Rochester with one of his dogs running around at the bottom of the screen. "See you Sunday!"
His kids didn't think anything of it.
"They're used to be me being crazy," he said. But then a friend named Al caught wind. "Al says, you've got post this. People are going to love it!"
And they did. DeGroat's "Can We Beat the Jets?" masterpiece amassed more than 100,000 views, spreading across social media at a rate DeGroat never could have imagined.
He became known among Bills fans online as "Bills Dad." They demanded encore performances, so he began to make a video in his house every week. Before Week 4 against the Falcons, DeGroat sang "The Bills Went Down to Georgia." Before Week 13 against New England, he sang "The Bills are Back in Town."
Last week, with the Bills' playoff hopes hanging in the balance, DeGroat sang "Party Like its 1999," which featured his whole family dancing in the basement.
When the stars aligned on Sunday and it became apparent the Bills were headed to Jacksonville, DeGroat didn't plan to make the trip to Florida.
But DeGroat forgot something: He was a social media celebrity of sorts.
That's how everything got started this past Tuesday. A Bills fan named Seth, who lives in Jacksonville, recognized DeGroat from the videos and contacted him out of the blue.
"I don't know him," DeGroat said. "He sent me a message, though — apparently he's watched the videos — and he says, 'Listen, if you get down here, I'd like to buy tickets to the game for you and your wife.'"
Pretty amazing, yes. But there was a huge problem. Flights to Jacksonville were either all booked or outrageously overpriced.
DeGroat and his wife weren't sure if they'd be able to get down there.
Then, the power of social media came to the rescue again: Another Bills fan posted on Facebook that he had a bunch of airline points that he wanted to give away to a fan, and he took suggestions as to which fan he should choose.
The Internet quickly pointed him to "Bills Dad."
DeGroat and his wife are flying to Jacksonville on Saturday morning.
"I'm going crazy. It's a whirlwind and I'm still a little shocked," he said. "I'm numb."
DeGroat is going to post another video before he leaves on Saturday, but he said he can't reveal which song he's chosen to parody.
Whatever it is, surely, it will be a hit among this fan base.
"Bills fans tend to get a rap for getting wild and crazy, table jumpers, drunk. But I'm going to tell you what: It's so much more than that," DeGroat said. "So generous, so kind, such big hearts, and I've just been overwhelmed by everyone's kindness and generosity. It's been nuts."