It's one thing to be the best among all Bills fans in the world, but Steve Hedin took it to another level when it came to the free NFL.com fantasy football game known as Home Team Challenge in 2009. Hedin represented Bills Nation extremely well, not only finishing first among all Bills fans, but second in the world with 1,991 points over the 17 week schedule.
For his efforts Hedin won an all expenses paid trip to the Pro Bowl as well as the Bills fan grand prize of two lower level sideline Bills season tickets, a pair of field passes prior to one home game and a Bills mini-helmet autographed by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Hedin also won a tailgate set along with a grill cooler for pre-game festivities.
In NFL.com's Home Team Challenge, participants choose an eight-player position specific lineup each week, consisting of one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a team defense. Players are assessed point values based on how well they are performing week to week during the regular season with participants only able to use 300 points to field a lineup each week.
Hedin's team was affectionately named the 'Swedish Bikini Team.'
"Basically I'm of Swedish heritage so that's where it came from," said Hedin. "It's a team name designed to intimidate others and inspire greatness. I stayed pretty consistent with my approach in putting the lineup together. I rarely used many points for the kicker and I'd focus on the matchups each week."
Hedin got off to a good start ranking in the top 20 in the world after Week 1 and was able to put together strong point-scoring weeks as the season wore on. Knowing he was near the top of the standings, Hedin was on edge the last month of the season.
"There was a lot of pressure definitely," he said. "It was funny my brother and dad, who also played, were avoiding me those last few weeks so they couldn't be blamed for any bad lineup decisions."
As things came down to the final week, Hedin saw that he not only had a chance to be the winner among Bills fans, but among all Home Team Challenge participants.
"I was really nervous because I was in contention for the Pro Bowl trip as the second place overall finisher," he said. "So when I saw I beat the third place guy by five points I was really happy about that. I was relieved."
Hedin just returned from his Pro Bowl trip this week after taking his brother down to Miami for the festivities.
Though it was a little disappointing that Bills safety Jairus Byrd's hip surgery kept him from participating in the game, Hedin did meet up with a former Bills quarterback.
"My brother and I met Doug Flutie," said Hedin. "His band was playing at the tailgate party before the game so we got to meet him and we also caught up with Billy Buffalo."
Now he's looking forward to his pair of Bills season tickets as the team begins a new era under new head coach Chan Gailey this fall.
"I usually make it to a couple of games a year, but my wife and I had our first child this past year so I didn't get up for any games," Hedin said. "My parents live in Pittsford so whenever we get up to see them we also get out to a game or two. I'm really looking forward to going to the games this fall and use that one set of sideline passes."
Hedin believes he'll be choosing the Pittsburgh game as the home game when he'll make use of the pre-game field passes. And his grill-cooler and tailgate equipment will be put to good use as well.
"We definitely tailgate," he said. "I don't know if we're hard core tailgaters, but that stuff will come in handy."
Playing for the past four NFL seasons, Hedin enjoys the format of Home Team Challenge. He likes it all the more now after seeing the potential rewards become reality.
"I'll be back to play next season definitely," he said.