You don’t have to be an avid NFL football fan to know that when it comes to Buffalo, the Bills are the heart and soul of the city.
In fact, this deep-rooted connection that’s existed between the community and the team for 60 seasons is frequently referenced by Bills draft picks and free agents as a source of excitement — often, before they’ve even stepped foot in Western New York. An endearing factor that sets Buffalo apart from the other 31 NFL cities, the Bills’ bond with fans is valued by the organization and is viewed as critical to rookie development.
According to Bills Director of Player Engagement & Alumni Marlon Kerner, building a rapport with the community early on can help the rookies bond with one another, adjust to life in a new city and transition to the NFL. To facilitate the acclimation process, the Bills rookie class participated in several group outings this week, including a trip to the New Era Cap headquarters in downtown Buffalo on Monday, June 17, and a city-wide excursion on Wednesday, June 19.
“We just wanted to get them to really understand what it means to be a part of this organization,” said Kerner. “[It’s also important that they know] what we stand for, and what this community means to the Bills and what the Bills mean to the community. We wanted them to see the blue-collar work ethic mentality and really get them to understand [that] win or lose, our fans are always going to have our back. So, [it] was really good for those guys to get out there and see.”