The past two seasons of the NFL have been tumultuous, to employ a euphemism. (I have grown notably apathetic to league activities myself, these past 2 years.) So when something upbeat and pleasant takes place it bears noting. In western New York a wave of giddiness has washed over the region, and the after-effects have been rather inspiring. The first playoff appearance for the team in over a decade will do that.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has declared himself the most popular man in Buffalo, and the evidence means he is not talking smack — or craziness. His personal foundation has experienced a wild windfall of charitable gratitude since Sunday evening, courtesy of residents in the Buffalo/Rochester area.
Given that numerous family members in my life, and under my roof, are devout Bills backers I had a front row seat to the exuberance. It began here in South Florida where the Bills, on the road, needed a victory and, as they say, a lot of help. After delivering a sound victory over my once-supported Dolphins the Bills became scoreboard watchers. That victory was but one step to the formula for glory, as Buffalo was enmeshed in the algebraic nuances of NFL playoff qualifications.
Entering Sunday Buffalo had roughly a 10% chance at making the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens held a 97% chance, and the two other teams vying for a wildcard slot — San Diego and Tennessee — were near 50/50. The victory over Miami kept them in contention, but then hopes looked dashed as both the Chargers and Titans won. The Bengals provided a glimmer as they led most of their game, until Baltimore scored 17 consecutive points to take a late lead. As time was expiring and seeking to get in tying field goal range the Bengals had the ball but struggled, with less than a minute remaining.
On a desperate fourth-down-and-twelve situation Andy Dalton dropped back, hit his receiver for first down yardage, and then watched as he kept running, scoring the winning touchdown. Buffalo was going to the postseason for the first time in 17 years. After this amazing finish the gratitude for the quarterback’s accomplishment began to trickle — and then flowed in.
At first a number of Bills fans had the thought to donate to the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation. This is a charitable enterprise the quarterback began with his wife during his rookie year, servicing various child-related issues in Cincinnati and Fort Worth (where Dalton played college football.) Dalton noted on Twitter the few thousands of dollars the charity received and thanked the fans. That began a wild trend.
Bills fans, you're amazing.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2018
Following a prod from the team management Bills fans rose up to join in the largesse, with many donating $17 increments to the charity to say thanks for the effort. By Sunday evening the amount was in the tens of thousands, twenty four hours after the initial New York donation the total swelled to $57,000, and as of Tuesday afternoon it has ballooned to over one hundred thousand.
It is a good thing to see some new blood in the NFL playoff bracket. It is an even better thing for a number of children serviced by the AJDF.