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Woman of the year: Bills' Harrison Phillips meets his own Champion

A 64-year-old woman spent her days vying for Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips as the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Within a minute of meeting Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips at one of his charity events, you can feel the passion.

Harrison's Playmakers foundation for kids and young adults with developmental differences and special needs drives him to be the best man he can be.

His teammates see the determination to make his communities where he lives and has lived a better place, voting him as their Walter Payton Man of the Year candidate for the second straight season.

Patty Champion took it from there, showing Bills Mafia truly means family.

The grandmother of five and creator of 20,850 tweets in support of Phillips as the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year, which is awarded to a player for their charity and volunteer work.

"I thought well, I'm retired. I have the time to do it. So I took the time to tweet 20,000 times," Champion said.

Added Phillips: "I wouldn't have ever assumed that someone in my life would do this, or that someone that I didn't know would value me that much."

"If they think this highly of me, I better be the best damn role model I can be because, you know, this woman views me that way, and I don't want to let her down, even though I don't know her that well."

So at 2 On Your Side, we brought a fan and a player together.

When Phillips met Champion on zoom for the first time he asked, "Miss Patty, what's going on here?! This is insane!"

She said she started the push for Harrison's award because he had taken the time to sign a jersey of hers.

"A small act of kindness really goes a long way," Champion said.

So does 20,000 tweets. Phillips finished third in fan voting for the award, putting $5,000 right back into another camp for Harrison's Playmakers.

"I hope you know that I would not have placed top three if it wasn't for you. Point blank. Period," Phillips told her.

"We don't have the largest population in the world, Bills fans. I mean, look at some of these other markets and teams where they have millions and millions of fans or followers or whatever. But no, somehow Bills fans and Bills Mafia rallied enough behind me to beat 29 other people, other teams, other markets. That shows so much dedication and heart, man."

Now it's down to a committee, with a $250,000 donation on the line.

It would mean the world to Phillips to win.

"I would probably cry on stage. ... Just knowing that night how well I would be able to sleep thinking about the impact that we get to have on the kids that I work with. ... My heart would be overflowing with love and joy. I hope one day, that comes true," he said.

With the love of the Bills Mafia, the family, that day could be coming soon.

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