Del Reid can identify a moment when he realized he had helped build a community.
It was October 9, 2011, the opening date of “#BillsMafia Tweet up” after the game in Buffalo against Philadelphia. The term “Mafia Bills” was used in the early days among a small group of fans who had been connected on Twitter until then. The tail gate had the opportunity for a personal meeting.
About 70 people attended that day. Brayon Harris – one of the three co-founders of mafia laws along with Reid and Leslie Will – left his home in Virginia Beach and was present. Reid recalls another fan moving from Ottawa.
“That’s where the family starts,” Reed said by phone Tuesday.
The origin of the term “Mafia Bills” has become a component of bills. It started in November 2010 when a small group of fans – including Reid, Harris and Will – mocked ESPN analyst Adam Shefter for a one-day comment based on a tweet from promissory note receiver Steve Johnson. Twitty Johnson was headed to God after a pressure drop in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After the arrest of Chefter, Reid jokingly called the group “Mafia Bills.” It was an internal joke among the fans after the hashtag started to lose steam until a huge movement took the form of support from supporter Nick Barnett. Barnett, a free agent agent who comes out of the Super Bowl Championship with Green Bay, accepted the term on the Internet and even went so far as to cover a custom mouthful with hashtags during games.
From there, Bill Mafia never looked back. Other players came aboard, from Johnson and Fred Jackson in the early decade to those who are now on the roster, most of whom came to the mafia while developing a team or to the city through a free agency.
The annual Reed Guard was eventually attended by hundreds of fans, although they were the only ones to gather at the Bill Mafia. Until 2015, the moniker was played in parking lots all over Orchard Park and backyard bars across the country, a badge of honor for technical fans unlike any other.
Twitter account Bafs Mafia Twitter (@BuffaloFAMbase) now has more than 117,000 followers.
“It defines who we are as a fan,” Reed said.
Recently, the organization itself began to embrace the moniker. Tweets using the hashtag “#BillsMafia” are now accompanied by the Bills logo. The group collaborated with Nicolas Avery, a Buffalo-born designer who is now based in Los Angeles to create special equipment with the phrase.
Speaking to Bills, Reed stressed that Mafia Bills are about society.
“When I spoke to Del, he said it was like losing one of his children,” said team owner and president Kim Pegula. “I understand how he felt. But it is not about losing a child. It’s about him becoming a bigger family around the world. I think that actually led to the conversations.
“What I love about Bills Mafia is the originality. It started from Del, it started from our community. … Although this is a phrase we’ve been using over the last few years, it’s not just words. This is the family aspect of it. ”
Founded in November 2013 by Del Reed and Dan Gigante, the 26 shirts began with a mission of goodness in the WNY community. To raise money to help people, families, and organizations in need by selling designs of their sports-themed and proud T-shirts, they have raised more than $ 920,000 to date.
“We have so many people who need help, and sometimes the resulting waiting list means that a person or family in need has to wait months for us to run a shirt campaign for them. We have consistently gained more recognition in the WNY area and want to make sure that the support of the Buffalo community becomes more helpful to people and at a faster pace, ”said Reid, who plans to new campaign 2 weeks each week
Leading figure – Del Reid, from left, at the check presentation 26 Shirts with Lorenzo Alexander, right, last year. It sold a Lorenzo-based design to support 4-year-old Andre Sanders ’fight with kidney cancer. Andre’s father, Rich, is in the middle.