ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — As the Bills embarked on what they hoped would be a Super Bowl season, no one could have anticipated the amount of love the team and community would pour out in the face of adversity all season long.
The 2022-2023 season began with a racist act of hate that shocked the country. On May 14, 10 of our neighbors were killed at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue. Three others were hurt. The Bills showed up to show support and the team’s motto for the season became what was printed on their shirts that day: “Choose Love.”
One month after May 14th, on June 14, the team’s co-owner, Kim Pegula suffered an “unexpected health issue.” After a short update later that month that she was progressing well, we haven’t seen or heart much from the team or Pegula family about how she’s doing today.
In August, head coach Sean McDermott began a press conference by confirming the devastating news about Dawson Knox’s brother.
Luke, Dawson’s younger brother, passed away.
“He wants me to give everything I got,” Dawson said later. “I know he’s gonna be watching some how some way.”
Bills Mafia came together to raise more than $200,000 for the Punt Pediatric Cancer Collaborative, a non-profit close to Knox’s heart.
Knox didn’t miss a game. The team started their season against the former Super Bowl champions: they beat the LA Rams 31-10, and then went on to beat the Titans in Week 2.
Week 3 was the first time weather got in the way.
In Miami, the Bills lost after battling extremely high temperatures. The Dolphins had shade on their sidelines, but the Bills did not.
“We came down here to win the game (and) we didn’t get that done,” McDermott said afterward. “I didn’t get that done. But I’m proud of the way the guys battled — the effort they gave, we used about everybody we could use on the sideline there.”
The weather was a talker again in Week 10: a home game against Cleveland as unprecedented snow totals were forecasted.
The team would move the game to Detroit and nearly 80 inches of snow would go on to fall on Highmark Stadium.
“Credit to Bills Mafia,” Josh Allen said after the game. “What they were going through … they were probably digging themselves out and drive 4.5 hours to get here so we really appreciate our fanbase and I can honestly say we couldn’t have done it without them. It took a lot of hands and moving parts.”
A cold-weather blast made for a brutally cold game against the Bears in Chicago on Christmas Eve, and as that was happening, Buffalo was getting blasted with snow, bitterly cold temperatures and wind. More than 40 people lost their lives in the Blizzard of ’22.
Just over a week later, Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in the game against the Bengals. It spurred the country to come together in support of #3. A week later, he left the ICU and was transferred to Buffalo, before going home.
Hamlin’s cardiac arrest was the worst injury on the field this season, but not the only one. At the home opener, an ambulance was brought onto the field for Dane Jackson, whose head badly snapped back during an awkward collision with a teammate on the field. Micah Hyde left the field in tears near the end of September with a major neck injury, and Josh hurt his elbow after the November game against the Jets. Von Miller’s ACL tear ended the season for the team’s closer.
“I could do this by myself, but to have a family, fans and teammates and so many people support you and uplifting you, like, I know for sure that I’ll be able to get back to the same Von that I was – if not better,” Miller said in mid-December.
As the Bills make their way through the playoffs, fans can hope a season of overcoming adversity will serve the Bills well as they chase an elusive Super Bowl title.
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