When you think of NFL home-field advantages, you think of the site: Arrowhead Stadium, Mile High, Orchard Park; it’s easy to give credit to the physical structure itself for how it can impact the opponent.
You can forget that the home-field advantage stems from 76,000 individuals who each have the passion it takes to yell on every third down, cheer for every good play, and participate in chants. Those individuals come to games because they’re passionate people who feel strongly about loving their local team.
That passion to be a part of something bigger than themselves doesn’t end with football games. That love for a community can translate to amazing achievements, and the latest and greatest example stemmed from the incredible, 42-36 overtime finish between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s divisional round game.
After the Kansa City win, a Chiefs fan named Brett Fitzgerald used his Facebook page — Chiefs Kingdom Memes — to suggest to his 11,500 followers that they donate $13 to Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen’s foundation, which directly benefits John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital. The $13 is a nod to the 13 seconds it took for Kansas City to tie the game, which eventually helped them win it.
After going live on Monday evening, the post has been shared 5,600 times — and has resulted in over $255,000 in donations as of Wednesday night. The hospital itself has confirmed that most of the donations have come from Kansas Citians, but it was a $13,000 donation from a Buffalo manufacturer — Oxford Pennant — that pushed the total over its current number.
Chiefs fans will rightfully get tons of credit for coming together and making such a sizable donation possible, but it’s Bills Mafia that inspired Fitzgerald to do this. He heard from a friend that Buffalo’s fan base has a trend of donating to opposing teams’ charities or just general charities when they find a good excuse to, so he wanted to return the favor.
Just over a month ago, Buffalo fans felt slighted by bad officiating; instead of mindlessly complaining about it, they ended up donating more than $65,000 to Visually Impaired Advancement, an organization in New York that helps blind people become as independent as they can.
Thank you, #BillsMafia members, for donating $17!— VIA: Visually Impaired Advancement (@viawny) December 14, 2021
While we recognize that NFL referees are not visually impaired, $17 makes an impact on VIA to help individuals who are visually impaired. If you would like to donate to VIA, go to https://t.co/YzjDkTzPaH.#LetsGoBuffalo pic.twitter.com/uCCT1pDBgb
Last season, a 17-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens to advance to the AFC Championship led to more than $360,000 being raised for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s favorite charity: Blessings in a Backpack, based out of Louisville, Kentucky. This actually led to Bills fans calling on Chiefs fans to help surpass the donation goal of $500,000 — which they ended up doing; the total ended up at $512,000.
Earlier in 2020, Bills fans may have made their biggest impact to date. After learning that Josh Allen’s grandmother had passed away, the community started donating in $17 increments to support the quarterback. Eventually, the donation total surpassed $1 million.
There was also the end of the 2017 season, where the Bills made the postseason for the first time in nearly 20 years because the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Ravens in Week 17. After Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton threw the game-winning touchdown to wide receiver Tyler Boyd, Bills fans directed their donations to both players’ foundations. Dalton’s had over $150,000 donated, while Boyd’s cause saw $20,000 come in.
Thank You to the Bills entire fan base. What great people you are . We have reach our primary goal with 20k and any other donations will still be excepted as well— Tyler Boyd (@boutdat_23) January 4, 2018
It was only right that Chiefs fans matched the constant generosity of the Buffalo fan base — but this isn’t new to Chiefs Kingdom, either.
To start the 2020 season, the Kansas City community raised over $1 million for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City by buying team flags during the season’s first Red Friday. That amount for one year made up one third of the total amount raised over an eight-year period.
After the 2017 season when starting quarterback Alex Smith was traded away from the team, Chiefs fans showed their respect for his services — making them relevant again after nearly a decade of perennial losing — by donating in $11 increments to the Alex Smith Foundation, which works with foster children and teens.
Words can’t express the overwhelming love and support we have felt from #ChiefsKingdom. 45k & over 2400 donations to KC foster youth! ThankU— Elizabeth Smith (@lizbsmith11) February 2, 2018
It’s in the people of Kansas City’s nature to come together and make a statement. Whenever there seems to be a competition that involves online voting, those fans take pride in putting in as many votes as they can. Remember when the 2015 MLB AL All-Star team was nearly all members of the Kansas City Royals?
They’ve also flooded online voting to win the right for their favorite players’ charities to receive a donation. This season, the Chiefs’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award was safety Tyrann Mathieu; due to the 2.9 million times his name was attached to the #WPMOYChallenge hashtag on Twitter, Mathieu’s foundation was awarded $25,000, courtesy of Nationwide; the funds will help financially disadvantaged youth in Kansas City and New Orleans, Louisiana.
That wasn’t the first time they’ve aided their Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee to win this particular challenge. Last year, tight end Travis Kelce was the beneficiary; he also won $25,000 for his 87 and Running Foundation. In 2015, safety Eric Berry won the online vote and was able to use the additional $20,000 towards his goal of helping youth sports.
With all that said, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that a matchup between these two compassionate fan bases resulted in a heavy dose of charitable donations. When you see the individuals hooting and hollering during a Chiefs or Bills home game, those same individuals also have that passion for their communities — whether that’s at a local level or in the bigger picture.
It’s just the latest example of why sports are important. They bring us together, even if our fandoms are the only thing we have in common. Not only does it result in an incredible game atmosphere, it can result in incredible achievements — like turning a $13 donation from each person into a life-changing $255,000 that directly benefits children in need.
Buffalo may have lost in heart-breaking fashion, but they can hold their heads up — knowing that it’s just a game, and what came out of it is absolutely more significant than any postseason result. Their history of charitable contributions inspired a Chiefs fan base to follow that trend, even though the Kansas City community wouldn’t directly benefit from the donations.
Both fan bases may be known for their volume levels — or their ability to break tables — but that passion is also used to make the world a better place. So next time you’re rocking your Chiefs or Bills jersey, remember that you’re not just representing a football team, but also a community that’s willing to go the extra mile for the greater good.