Bills bring hope to 26 Shirts founder, even in the middle of a pandemic

Western New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s been a year for Bills fans — soaring hope amid a pandemic of crushing death and economic hardship.

That hope takes countless forms, especially for Del Reid, the co-founder of Bills Mafia and creator of 26 Shirts.

The Bills are on top, tens of thousands of dollars has been donated to help local families and more than a million dollars in the name of the starting QB’s late grandmother packed the coffers of our children’s hospital.

There’s always struggle with this franchise, one way or another. But there’s also always appreciation.

“I’m excited,” Reid said. “I’m actually kind of freaking out inside. I’m so excited for this game on Saturday.”

Bills Mafia co-founder and 26 Shirts owner Del Reid is all of us right now.

“It’s like a new feeling, but also there’s like this nostalgia vibe going on,” Reid said. “Because I’ve lived through the Super Bowl years in high school and early college. And this team has a similar feel to it.”

The week leading into the first wild card weekend in Orchard Park in a quarter century has been full of anticipation And even in a pandemic filled with hurt and uncertainty, overwhelming joy.

The Bills are 13 and 3, far and away AFC East champs and the number two seed in the playoffs with a head of steam charging into January football.

It’s the hottest ticket for more than 6,000 fans who will be at Bills Stadium for the first time all season, and the hundreds of thousands of others who will be glued to their TVs, just as they have for 17 weeks.

“My butt is going to be firmly planted on my couch with my family,” Reid says. “That’s the thing about this year. I’ve been able to watch every snap with my kids.”

The year is different in many ways. The struggle is all around us. But it’s not here, where a generation of belonging was built, even in the dog days.

This season of success reinforces there are always challenges — even when the wagons have been circled and the gates are finally opened.

That’s the takeaway: Whether you’re winning or losing, find the moments. It’s just sometimes, that appreciation comes a lot easier.

“Every Bills fan needs to stop for a moment this week and just enjoy what the season is, and not saying that it’s over, or look back,” Reid says. “But stop for a moment and enjoy just what we’re in the middle of.”

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