Though it wasn't at MetLife Stadium, the Bills and the Buffalo community had a big win on Super Bowl Sunday – one that will impact the lives of many.
Bills LB Arthur Moats went head-to-head against a player from each of the other 32 NFL teams and was able to recruit the most volunteers of them all, not only winning through the lives those volunteers will impact, but through the $10,000 grant awarded to the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County because of his first-place finish.
"It's a huge honor and I feel like it shows the resilience of this city and this town," said Moats. "Even though the season didn't go as we wanted it to go, we could still win an off-the-field event that has such great magnitude as far as the people whose lives have been changed because of it."
"We're thrilled," said Michael Weiner, President of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. "Arthur is such a unique guy. He's a wonderful ambassador for youth in our community and a great spokesperson for the Bills. His enthusiasm and passion for giving back to the community made him the perfect person to help us generate interest in mentorship and volunteerism."
The competition had narrowed to just Moats and Cliff Avril of the Seattle Seahawks in the final week and came down to a push in the final hours. In the end, Moats recruited 7,934 volunteers, contributing hugely to the almost 40,000 volunteers total recruited in the United Way TEAM NFL Playoff Challenge.
"The win says two things to me," said Moats. "Number one it says that people love their Bills, and number two that they care about their community and want to do something that's going to make a difference in a lot of children's lives."
And that tangible difference is great. Weiner says a grant of that size dedicated to education could help mentor 300 at-risk students throughout the year, train 75 parents of children with special needs, give 25 homeless children better access to food, clothing and shelter, or improve afterschool programming for 40 children for a year.
As for beating out Avril and the Seahawks in the final hours? Moats says it's all in good fun, and that there were certainly two winners last Sunday.
"I felt like it was a huge win-win for both of us," he said. "Everything worked out. We both pushed each other, and both of our United Ways pushed each other to raise that level of volunteerism.
"Ultimately for him to get the Super Bowl ring, I definitely didn't feel as bad about it," he ended with a laugh.