Every member of the Buffalo Bills roster and coaching staff loaded onto a bus Wednesday morning to head from Orchard Park to the East Side of Buffalo. It was a day originally reserved for voluntary Organized Team Activities, but in light of the massacre at a local grocery store over the weekend, the team instead paid their respects to the victims and volunteered to help the surrounding community they left behind.
Wearing black shirts with a Bills logo and the words “Choose Love” emblazoned across the front, the Bills players laid flowers at the temporary memorial across the street before lining up to prepare and serve food to the local residents impacted by the loss of the only grocery store in the area. (Shout out to the World Central Kitchen for stepping up and coming to Buffalo, as well. They supervised the food, the Bills provided the manpower.)
Before they did that, assistant head coach Leslie Frazier led a moment of silence and prayer for the victims.
Bills, Sabres and Bandits players and other members of the organizations laying flowers at the memorial for the ten victims of the Tops mass shooting. pic.twitter.com/uQjqpbNyXI— Ryan Whalen (@RyanWhalenCT) May 18, 2022
“It’s the least we could do,” said head coach Sean McDermott to WGRZ. “When the community has been affected the way it’s been affected, we need to step up and fill the gap with love and unity.”
“We’re really just trying to be a shining light for the community down here right now during this tough time,” long snapper Reid Ferguson told WGRZ TV in Buffalo. “We wanted to be as quick as we could.”
Ferguson mentioned that the team captains were instrumental in organizing the event, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown singled out special teams captain Taiwan Jones. Captain Stefon Diggs flew in specifically for the event.
The Bills players were joined by members of the Buffalo Sabres (NHL) and Buffalo Bandits (NLL). All three teams are owned by Kim and Terry Pegula.
“It’s hard to wrap your mind around how there’s such evil in the world; today we’re just here to spread some love,” said tight end Dawson Knox, via Justin Murphy of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Murphy confirmed it was every single player and coach.
I’m told it’s in fact every single Bills player and coach pic.twitter.com/mq8emkfAuV— Justin Murphy (@CitizenMurphy) May 18, 2022
Bills’ superstar quarterback Josh Allen didn’t want to talk about what the Bills were doing, though. He went straight to the heart of why the team was there in the first place.
“What happened here is disgusting,” said Allen to a pool of reporters.
To donate to causes helping the survivors of this weekend’s shooting or the community at large as they try to move on from the fallout, there are multiple verified options at this link. You can also give to the Thurman Thomas Family Foundation here.
An incredible turnout from the Bills, Sabres, & Bandits today.— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) May 18, 2022
Players & coaches handed out & prepared food, signed autographs, and took pictures. The common theme from those we talked to - it’s not enough to just donate money. They wanted to be here.#BuffaloStrong @WKBW pic.twitter.com/9rOEhfnieN