Game days at New Era Field are one-of-a-kind.
From the indescribable rush you get when you watch the team storm out of the tunnel and take the field, to the unforgettable sound of the cheerful crowd, nothing beats a Bills game. Knowing how special Sundays at New Era Field are, Bills players and coaches have once again teamed up to provide tickets to a variety of local organizations through the Buffalo Bills Player and Coach Community Season Ticket Donation Program.
Participants including Marcell Dareus, Jerry Hughes, Richie Incognito, Cordy Glenn, Charles Clay, Jordan Mills, Tyrod Taylor, Lorenzo Alexander, Patrick DiMarco, Shaq Lawson and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, have donated a total of 1,970 tickets to groups throughout Western New York. In doing so, the participants have made a lasting impact on the lives of so many in the community including guests from the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County and veteran's groups.
Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes, a five-year participant, enjoys taking part in the program, as it allows him to give back to organizations that have influenced his family.
"I've been doing it for five years now and really I'm just doing my part to help out," said Hughes. "Just driving around the city, seeing so many people who really want the help, need the help and surely if I can help, and God has blessed me to do so, I'll certainly do it.
"For me, [I donate tickets to] the Boys and Girls Club because my father always taught me how it was big for him. It was instrumental for him growing up as an adolescent. It kept him off the streets. It kept him from doing things he shouldn't be doing. It was a nice safe-haven for him. Kids should go play, have fun, get out of the house [and] just be a kid. I think that's very important, especially in this time. We really need our kids to be active, have fun and just enjoy their youth."
For quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was not able to attend NFL games growing up, the program is a way to provide youth with an opportunity that they otherwise may not have.
"I've been doing it for two years," said Taylor. "I think it's a great idea to give back to the community. As a kid, I wasn't fortunate enough to go to a NFL game, so to be able to provide that opportunity for somebody else is a blessing. It's a good act. It's just to provide an opportunity. We've been winning at home, so they've been coming to some good games. We appreciate their support, keeping it loud for the opposing team and creating a fun atmosphere."
In addition to the work he does through his foundation, first-year participant linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, views the program as another platform to make a difference.
"For the ticket program, this is my first year doing it," said Alexander. "I definitely want to take part because the community really supported me last year. Now I'm here for a second year and really starting to integrate into the community, so I wanted to give back to it. I donate every week through my foundation, the Lorenzo Alexander ACES Foundation…The first week I honored police officers. He was actually my son's youth basketball coach. So he picked five of his buddies and they brought five of their kids. I also had five fire fighters and their kids…Last week we had a group out of Rochester. It's just honoring people who do great things in the community, and also inspiring our kids.
"In a couple of weeks, I'll be [working with a] local elementary school through their reading program. We're incentivizing kids to read. The more books they read, the more raffle tickets they'll get and [some] will get to come to a game with their teacher. Growing up, I didn't go to a lot of football games until I started playing in college and the NFL. A lot of kids don't get to experience it – they watch it on TV. To have somebody who is on the Bills, I think it's a huge impact to encourage them. Kids tend to listen to us. Any way I can encourage them to be more engaged academically is huge."