It really and truly is a tradition unlike any other.
Beginning in 2016, Bills fans started greeting Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his annual visit to Buffalo by throwing a certain sex toy onto the field.
On the initial occasion, the reaction was disbelief, in the “is that what I think it is?” sort of way. And it was removed with a swift kick from one of the officials.
It has continued in 2017 and 2018, and there’s no reason to think that, of all the thousands of rabid Bills fans supporting their 3-0 team, none of them will smuggle the rubber device past security and into New Era Field, with the goal of extending the streak to four years in a row.
The Bills hope it doesn’t happen.
“It’s Patriots week, and that we have to contemplate if some fan is going throw a dildo on the field is ridiculous,” Bills chief administrative officer Dave Wheat told Tim Graham of TheAthletic.com.
The concern is less aesthetic than practical. The Bills don’t want anyone to get injured by stepping on a non-functioning Whizzinator.
“What if Josh Allen is running, steps on it and tears his ACL?” Wheat said. “What are the ramifications? What if Tom Brady got injured? . . . . This community would never live that down. People need to realize these are professional athletes, and you’re literally putting their health and safety at risk.”
There’s also very real risk for those who would throw the foreign object onto the field. Hub and Dillon Hayes, the brothers who started the tradition three years ago thanks to inspiration from a Halloween costume, received a letter not long after the incident from Commissioner Roger Goodell informing them that they have been banned from every NFL stadium, and that if they attend a game anywhere they will be arrested for trespassing. (I suddenly have a vision of security workers at every stadium looking at every face to see if it matches that of the Typhoid Mary of dildo throwers.)
They apparently have made it back inside New Era Stadium since then, and they wouldn’t comment to Graham on whether they’ll be back on Sunday.
Some Bills players hope that the flying phalluses won’t be back on Sunday.
“We try to keep it a family environment, for crying out loud,” tight end Lee Smith told Graham. “I have four kids that’ll be in the stands, two daughters. I’m not a huge fan of some idiot throwing a dildo onto the field while they’re watching their dad play.”
Like it or not, some Bills fans surely will happily and/or drunkenly be adding his (or her) name to one of the most unlikely chains in NFL history when the Patriots show up on Sunday.