The Buffalo Bills continue to be recognized for their success on and off the field in 2019. The newest honor was awarded to Buffalo's equipment staff as New Era's named the group the AFC Equipment Staff of the Year. Director of Equipment Operations Jeff Mazurek learned the Bills were the best in the AFC on a zoom call with all NFL equipment staff last week. Mazurek said the first-time honor is memorable because of New Era's ties to the Bills.
"Being from Buffalo and growing up here and always wearing New Era caps, it's pretty cool," Mazurek explained. "We knew this year that we had a good chance because we were really dialed in."
The award is based off a points system and the prize includes a championship belt. Teams receive points for wearing the correct product based on the time of season and type of game. Points are deducted for teams who are wearing the wrong caps or visors. In season, each team can earn up to 10 points a game. The competition began in 2014 and has only gotten more intense each year.
"It's a lot trying to make sure guys are in the right hat and running up to guys on the sideline," Mazurek said. "Whether it's an inactive player and he's not wearing the right hat, then swapping them out. A lot of credit goes out to our coaches, staff and players for being super accommodating to us like wearing the right hat, especially coach [McDermott]. Coach is always wearing the right stuff on game days."
Mazurek's staff includes Spencer Haws, Kori Reblin, Austin Skobel and Nick Prince. Without the help from the four and New Era's Kyle McGowan and Dave Aichinger, Mazurek said the award wouldn't have happened.
"It's just their dedication, day in and out," said Mazurek. "Not just with this program and winning this but everything we do. It's showing up on time, coming in early and staying late."
In 2019, the Buffalo Bills celebrated their 60th season as a franchise by going 10-6 in the regular season and clinching the AFC's fifth seed. It is the second time in three seasons under Sean McDermott that the Bills have qualified for the playoffs, and was a great way to celebrate the 60th season of the Buffalo Bills and the 100th season of the NFL. Scroll through to view the top photos and moments from the season.
"You're looking at 60 to 70 hours a week in season. Training camp is probably more of the grueling hours when we're starting at 5:30 a.m. and we're off the field with walkthrough at 7 p.m. Afterwards, we still have an hour and a half or two of work with laundry to do."
The crew also does a lot of work when it comes to packing for training camp and road games.
When the Mazurek and his staff found out about the results, it took his mind off COVID-19 and thoughts of when normalcy can begin again.
"I think I forgot about everything for about a few hours on Friday," Mazurek explained. "We had our meeting online. Equipment guys around the league that I'm friends with and colleagues were messaging us. I reached out to McDermott and Beane to show them and they were pretty pumped and excited for us too. Other players reached out as well."
As for the championship belt, Mazurek said as soon as they are back at One Bills Drive it will make its tour around the equipment staff, players, McDermott and Beane. The group believes they're in a good position to become two-time champs in 2020.
"It's just commitment, what coach always talks about," said Mazurek. "It's accountability, all my guys are phenomenal. I've got a great staff."