The American Express

La Quinta, Calif.


The Loop

Give Back, Get Back

Bills Mafia has been donating to a visual impairment organization in the name of "blind" NFL refs everywhere

December 15, 2021

On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills continued their late-season slide, falling 33-27 in overtime to the Tompa Bay Buccaneers. The loss brought Tom Brady’s all-time record against the Bills to an unthinkable 33-3, but after the game, it wasn’t their arch nemesis that had Bills Mafia in a lather, but the referees, who missed what appeared to be a clear pass interference on Stefon Diggs in the end zone with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

Souring the grapes even further, was an earlier PI call, which sure looked like offensive pass interference by Mike Evans but ended up going the other way.

All in all, a tough pill to swallow, especially considering the lateness of the season and the tightness of the AFC playoff picture. Bills fans, however, have a lot of experience making the best of it, and that’s what they've done this week, turning their anger into something good by donating to the VIA: Visually Impared Enhancement—a local organization dedicated to helping those with visual impairments—in tribute to the “blind” referees that hosed them on Sunday.

It all began with Massachusetts native (but longtime Bills fan) Hunter Schinabeck, who was so frustrated with the blown PI calls that he turned to social media to ask if there was anything that could be done. Instead of sue the NFL, like the Saints fans did following that infamous NFC Championship no-call, someone suggested he donate to a visual impairment charity in honor of Sunday’s visually challenged referees.

He liked the idea, looked up the VIA, and donated $17 in tribute to Josh Allen’s number. Members of Bills Mafia followed suit, and throughout the day donations kept rolling in, all in $17 increments.

In the end, it won’t change a damn thing. The NFL stands behind its calls, no matter how craven. But it’s good to see football fans exorcising their frustrations in a constructive way, especially this time of year. ‘Tis the season for giving, after all.