Patrick Mahomes ripped the hearts out of Buffalo Bills fans in 13 seconds. Del Reid, a lifelong Bills fan who coined the term “Bills Mafia” in a 2010 tweet, thought he had seen it all. The 46-year-old witnessed the Scott Norwood missed Super Bowl field goal and then suffered through the “Music City Miracle.” This loss pained him the most.
For the first time, a football game made Reid cry. Reid told Sportscasting that watching Mahomes drive the length of the field to eliminate his Bills was “like a gut punch.” Despite the brutal loss, Reid said there was one consolation prize after the game.
Del Reid had no idea what typing ‘Bills Mafia’ in 2010 would turn into
Technically, you could say former Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson and ESPN Insider Adam Schefter had something to do with the creation of the Bills Mafia. Johnson dropped what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass during an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. After the game, he took to Twitter and blamed God.
The following day, Schefter retweeted Johnson’s post, which Reid and several other Bills fans thought was strange. It was strange because Schefter, the guy who breaks all the NFL news, was 24 hours late with this one.
“Retweeting it 20 or so hours later seemed a little silly and Bills fans jumped on (Schefter),” Reid said to Sportscastng on Tuesday. “They were using the hashtag #schefterbreakingnews and he blocked a lot of us. I used the term Bills Mafia and mentioned a bunch of guys who got blocked.
“Over time, fans discovered it. Players discovered it. It just grew and grew.”
Oh my, has it grown. The Bills Mafia has become the face of the fan base. The term has been trademarked by the team, and the Bills keep Reid involved with Mafia-related matters.
“It’s all about community, looking out for each other,” he said. “We’re a group of fans who come out and support the team and the community.”
The Bills Mafia was crushed after the Bills’ shocking loss to the Chiefs
Like most NFL fans, the Bills Mafia — especially Reid — saw emotions fly all over the place when the Bills traveled to Kansas City. With 13 seconds left, it appeared the Bills were heading to the AFC title game after Gabriel Davis caught his fourth touchdown pass of the game to give the Bills a 36-33 lead, sending Bills fans into a frenzy.
Two passes later, Mahomes had the Chiefs in field-goal range, and Harrison Butker sent the game into overtime. The Chiefs won the coin toss and marched right down the field for the victory.
It was a crushing moment for Reid, one he hadn’t experienced before. It was just as crushing to Reid’s teen daughters, who have become Bills backers as well.
“I would say that one good thing that’s come from the pandemic is that I got to watch every game with my kids,” he said. “The Bills had a great season last year and this year, and my daughters really got into the games.”
Because the Reid family was so invested in the team, that crushing loss brought out all the emotions.
“My daughter cried,” he said. “My oldest daughter said she felt like she had just broken up with somebody.
“It’s actually the first Bills game where I’ve teared up. I saw Super Bowl 25 (Norwood’s missed kick) and the Music City Miracle. I was so sure it was going to be their year this year. It was just a gut punch that still hurts.”
The Mafia is much more than crazed fans jumping through tables
When people hear about the Bills Mafia, the first image that might pop into their minds is a high-energy fan in a Bills jersey crashing through a table during a tailgating party. While that part of the Mafia does exist, there’s much more to it than that.
Reid and the Mafia are all about giving back. The Mafia has been known to help raise money the help support players’ foundations, most notably the Patricia Allen Fund, named after Josh Allen’s grandmother who died last November.
The Mafia led a fund-raising charge that helped unveil the “Patricia Allen Pediatric Recovery Wing” at the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital after raising more the $1 million, according to NBC Sports. Much of that money came in $17 increments, referencing Allen’s jersey number.
Reid is the owner of 26 shirts, a company that sells Buffalo-themed t-shirts and donates a percentage of sales to various charities. To date, the company has raised $1,335,074. Reid said he began the company on a part-time basis, but when he lost his job, he took it on full-time with the blessing of his wife. He’s been full-time for the last six years and “it gets bigger every year,” he said.
The Mafia has also inspired others to be generous. After the crushing loss to the Chiefs, Kansas City fans took a page from the Mafia playbook. They sent $13 increments to Oishei Children’s Hospital, totaling nearly a half-million dollars.
Reid wants none of the credit. He pinches himself with what’s happened after typing “Bills Mafia” 12 years ago.
“This will never stop being surreal to me,” he said. “I’ll never get used to this.”
The loss was painful, but some of the sting was taken away by the generosity of Chiefs fans.
“What goes around, comes around,” Reid said. “It’s been a tough week. That’s a bittersweet consolation prize.”