After thousands of fans of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills signed a petition titled, “Ban Andrew Cuomo from Buffalo Bills Stadium playoff games,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reversed his decision to attend the first home playoff game of the Bills, saying he was giving his ticket away to an ECMC nurse.
The petition, which had zoomed to over 45,000 signatures by Friday, read, “So Cuomo is going to attend our playoff game after telling us that we can only attend at less than 10% capacity? If he thinks he has more right to a seat in that stadium over people who have waited over 20 years for this opportunity, then people better be there to protest his entry. This is OUR team! This is OUR home. We don’t want you here.”
The petition also showed a T-shirt targeting Cuomo with a link to the product.
On December 30, Cuomo tweeted: “NYS, @NFL and @BuffaloBills have come to an agreement to allow >6,700 fans to attend the first home playoff game. The stadium is outdoors. Every fan must test negative before game, wear a mask & social distance. There will be post-game contact tracing. To Bills fans — be smart.”
NYS, @NFL and @BuffaloBills have come to an agreement to allow ~6,700 fans to attend the first home playoff game.
The stadium is outdoors. Every fan must test negative before game, wear a mask & social distance.
There will be post-game contact tracing.
To Bills fans—be smart.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 30, 2020
At a press briefing on the same day, Cuomo told Kim and Terry Pegula, the owners of the Bills, that he would take a COVID-19 test and join the fans at the game, saying, “I’m going to take my test, I’m going to be out there to watch the game with you, and we look forward to it.”
The sports newsletter Yardbarker.com noted:
Cuomo’s announcement was a controversial one on a few fronts. First, New York residents who do not happen to be NFL fans believed it was hypocritical to allow that many people into Bills Stadium in light of how it deviates from the strict COVID-19 protocols currently in place. On the other hand, Bills fans are upset that only 6,700 fans will be allowed entry into a stadium with a capacity of 71,870. Given the limited number of seats available, some members of Bills Mafia don’t want Cuomo taking up a spot.
Fans of the Bills have braved the extreme cold temperatures of winter to root for their team for 54 years. In those 54 years, the Bills have made the playoffs 16 times, but have never won the Super Bowl. For four consecutive seasons, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993, under Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy (elected in 2001), the Bills, led by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly (who was elected in 2002), made the Super Bowl, but they didn’t emerge triumphant. Their creative and famed no-huddle shotgun formations made them one of the most powerful offenses in NFL history. The NFL even changed its rules because of the Bills to allow opposing defenses time to change formations.
Under Levy, from 1988 through 1997, the Bills were first in the AFC in winning percentage and second only to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL.
The Bills made the playoffs in 2019.