ORCHARD PARK, NY (WIVB) — The 2022-2023 season ended with a racist act of hate that shocked the country. On May 14th, 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 etched on their shirts that day: ‘Choose Love.’
No one could anticipate the amount of love the team and community would pour out in the face of adversity all season long.
One month after May 14th, on Jun 14th, 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.
“Ok, we’ll go ahead and get started… Some of you may already know the news on Dawson’s brother,” Head Coach Sean McDermott started a press conference in August with the devastating news about Dawson Knox’s brother.
Luke, the younger brother of Dawson, passed away.
“He wants me to give everything I goty,” Dawson would later say. “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: the beat the LA Rams 31-10 and then went on to beat the Titans in Week 2. Week 3 through 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,” Coach 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 who’s 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.