Buffalo Bills plan Pancho Billa tribute before home opener

Orchard Park

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB ) — The Buffalo Bills will take on the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, without one of their biggest fans. Pancho Billa, a Bills superfan, passed away of cancer back in May. 

But his memory lives on. 

Before kickoff Sunday, there will be a pre-game ceremony honoring Billa, whose real name was Ezra Castro. A tribute video will play, and Pancho’s mother, girlfriend and kids will be presented with game balls and jerseys on the field.

The family will go through pre-game festivities with the team Saturday. They will sit next to Sean McDermott’s wife Sunday, to watch the Bills take on the Bengals. The group also plans to spend some time with Defensive Tackle Harrison Phillips while they’re in town.

Phillips has a very special relationship with the family. If you’ll remember, Pancho read his name aloud when he was drafted in 2018. Phillips said the team will have a lot of ‘Pancho Power’ fueling them as they run onto the field. 

“He was just such a great catalyst for our organization and everything he stood for, the way that he was as a fan and through his battle how positive he was and optimistic,” Phillips said. “I think a lot of our fans can use him as a, ‘hey look at how big of an impact we can have on the town and team.’ You hear Coach McDermott and Brandon Bean and all of our staff and players talk about how much it means to play in front of our home crowd; that’s real. That’s honestly how we feel. We care about our fans and have genuine relationships with them.”

During the pre-game ceremony Sunday, there will also be 100 children on the field who have benefited from The Teacher’s Desk. Pancho Billa dreamed of helping children in need with school supplies, and after his passing people came together to donate $100,000 to The Teacher’s Desk. That was enough money for 10,000 backpacks for kids in need, along with $100 worth of school supplies in each backpack. 

If you want to see the pre-game ceremony, it’s suggested you get into the game 30 minutes before kickoff. It will take place around 12:40/12:45. 

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