It may not be football season yet, but that didn't stop nearly 40 Bills players from hitting the field on Sunday.
Coming together to support Micah Hyde and his IMagINe for Youth Foundation at his Charity Softball Game, were members from Buffalo's offense, defense and special teams units, Legends Eric Wood and Fred Jackson and head coach Sean McDermott. For the droves of Bills fans that lined the stands proudly sporting their team gear, the afternoon was telling of just how close-knit the Bills are. As they competed in a home run derby and an offensive versus defensive matchup, the guys got another chance to strengthen their bond.
"That's a big piece of us trying to come together this offseason and as I mentioned, build a team," explained McDermott. "That chemistry is important both inside and outside of the building and it's important… that they hang out together, doing things that are not just football based and this is a big part of it. I love just watching them being out here and having fun."
The event, which generated over $40,000 for Hyde's foundation to be given back to the Buffalo community, started off with a bang. Bills such as quarterback Josh Allen, fullback Pat DiMarco, safety Jordan Poyer, defensive tackle Kyle Peko, guard Wyatt Teller, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and Hyde himself, duked it out for bragging rights in the derby. In the end, Allen, who was up against Poyer in the championship round, was declared the winner.
Although elated from his victory, for the Bills' starting signal caller, the true takeaway from the festivities runs much deeper.
"Micah's obviously one of the best teammates that you can ask for," said Allen. "The guy comes in every day [and] works extremely hard. You know he's one of the friendliest faces in the locker room [and] he cares about everybody. So, for us to get out here and do something that benefits him and what he cares about, it truly means something special…To have all these fans come out for a softball game, [for] us get out here [and] compete a little bit [is awesome]. [I] can't thank Micah enough for putting this on for us because it was a great time."
The afternoon continued when McDermott threw out the ceremonial first pitch. As Bills offensive and defensive players got in position, cheers and intermittent chants of the Bills "Shout Song" rumbled throughout the Bisons' home field. Leading the way for the defense were veterans Lorenzo Alexander, Poyer and Hyde, along with Matt Milano, Kevin Johnson and Harrison Phillips. On offense, newcomer Duke Williams was among those who hit home runs to help put the offense back in the game.
Check out photos from Bills safety Micah Hyde's Charity Softball Game on Sunday, June 2.
After a competitive and fun-filled afternoon, the defense took the contest, winning 8-7.
A day that started out with rain, quickly turned into a bright spot for Hyde, his teammates and all the fans in attendance.
"As soon as I said we were going to have this softball game, a lot of people said, 'I'm doing it'," said Hyde. "This is, the weekend is, the kind of time you can get away, you can see your family, [travel to] whatever cities you want to go to visit and guys stuck around to be a part of this game. I appreciate them so much. I appreciate all the fans coming -- not knowing if it was going to rain or not.
"…We raised over $40,000 for this event and we're able to give it back to the community of Buffalo…We like to do a lot of stuff in Buffalo because this is where we're at right now...Whether it's getting more backpacks for school or shoes, cleats, whatever it may be, we're going to be able to do so."
Overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he received, Hyde elaborated on the connection that is continuing to build between him and his team.
"It's safe to say that….during OTAs already you feel guys clicking together," he said. "It's not just defensive guys. It's offensive guys [and] special teams. Guys really enjoy each other's company. Guys really love each other on this team, and I'd go to war each and every day with anybody on the defense. Coach, he makes it a point to [say to] love each other, be there for one another…We got each other's back. We're brothers. We're family and that's what it's about."