Most of us have heard the saying about you never know what someone's going through or what battle they're fighting, especially in this crazy year of 2020. It's safe to say we've all fought battles this year and it's the people who have been there to help us pick up the pieces that have been our light in dark times.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen was quietly wrestling with heartbreaking news just a day before the Week 9 game against the Seattle Seahawks finding out his grandmother, Patricia Allen, had passed away. Allen had an impressive game that ended in a 44-34 win, the most points the Bills have scored all season. When Allen got to the locker room after the game, feeling overwhelmed with emotion after the win and what had transpired over the last 24 hours, many of his teammates did not know the adversity he overcame to even step foot onto the field.
One of his teammates who was aware that Allen had just lost a family member was defensive lineman Mario Addison. Addison knows the feeling all too well. He lost his younger brother, Gjamal Antonio Rodriqcus, to a tragic death just over a year ago. As someone who understands the heartache, Addison felt inclined to comfort Allen after the game.
"I could see the hurt in his eyes, and I know that pain all too well," Addison said. "So I tried my best to go to him and comfort him because at a time like this he's going to need all the support he can get. To have a great game like that, he didn't even have time to celebrate it because when we came off he was obviously devastated. So I tried to warm him up by telling him he doesn't have to go through this alone, and that I'm here and the rest of the players are here to comfort him."
"Just talking with some of the guys who had been through situations like mine," Allen explained. "A guy like Mario Addison coming up to me and just giving me a big hug and letting me know we're going to get through this together. I talked to Mario after that, and I really appreciated what he did. Just again the overwhelming support of your teammates and your brothers here. That's how you get over stuff is by being with your friends and your family and focusing on all the good."
Addison, who is very much still grieving his brother's loss, honored him on the one-year anniversary of his death by wearing pads, cleats and a chain with his name or face on them for the Week 7 game against the Jets. The defensive lineman described the day similar to Allen, one filled to the brim with emotions.
The Jets game isn't the only game where Gjamal is on Addison's mind. He frequently wears pads with his brother's nickname, Skii, on them and feels his presence helping him on the field.
"For the most part you'll see 97 and Skii under my pads," Addison said. "So that's how I remember him every game. When I'm out there, I'm always talking to him saying, 'Let's go G. Let's make it happen.' I'm constantly talking to him, living it up for him. He's definitely going to live through me every day, every play."
If you've met Addison off the field he's full of life and usually sports a huge smile. He's an uplifting teammate who is the perfect fit on a Bills team full of players with exceptional character.
"At the end of the day this is a brotherhood and everybody is going to have their ups and downs," Addison explained. "If you have someone that can uplift you at any time, that's big. We all need it. Some of the strongest people need help too. In a dark time like this, the least we can do is help our brother out."
On the field, Addison has delivered as well. He's tied for the team-lead with 4.0 sacks and leads the team with seven quarterback hits. The Bills rank tied for eighth in NFL with 27.0 sacks.
In a day where Allen needed it the most, his brother was there for him. Just like Allen, Addison's new teammates have also been there to comfort him along the way. No matter what any player is going through, one thing remains true in the Bills locker room—they will love and support each other through it.
"The culture of this team, everybody has bought into it," Addison shared. "It's nothing but love. In this locker room we don't have anybody that feels like they are bigger than everybody else.
"Everybody has fun with each other, everybody speaks to each other. At the end of the day even if we have a player that can't play because of COVID, we comfort him and we feel bad that he can't play because we need him. This is one of the best locker rooms to be a part of."
"We've got a great locker room," Allen said echoing Addison. "Guys that just have each other's backs, guys that care about each other. When you care about each other that much when you're on the football field, you play harder and you think less about sacrificing your body and you just go out there and try to do your job. The love that we share in the locker room, I think is unmatched anywhere in the league."
Addison is just one example of the countless interactions that happen in the Bills locker room which reflect what this team is truly about. In a tough year where we've all faced adversity and seen hate in places it doesn't belong, it's comforting to know there's places in this world filled with love and support. The Bills locker room is one of those places.