Buffalo Bills running back Taiwan Jones has invited Valentino Dixon — a Bills fan who spent 27 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit — to attend Saturday’s playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, per Marcel Louis-Jaques of ESPN.com.
Dixon was convicted of murder in 1991 despite no physical evidence linking him to the crime. A campaign to get his conviction thrown out was spurred in recent years after he became recognized for his artwork of golf courses despite having no connection to the game himself. A story by Max Adler of Golf Digest helped fuel the push to get him out of jail. He was released from prison in 2018 after he was exonerated of the crime.
The Bills got clearance from the state of New York to have a crowd of up to 6,700 in attendance for Saturday’s Wild Card weekend opener against the Colts. Dixon will get Jones’ tickets to the game, his first Bills game he’s been able to attend since a preseason game 40 years ago.
“When I first read his story, man, it was touching and heartbreaking. I definitely wanted to do something for him,” Jones said.
Jones called Dixon and said he was blown away by the conversation.
“When he called, it was like talking to an old friend. Our conversation was real genuine,” Jones said. “I think what stood out the most was that he didn’t have any grudge in him. He sounded like he was just real happy with where his life is today. I was just so amazed at where he’s at emotionally and mentally.
“He definitely showed a lot of character of who he is, because he’s just a happy dude. He didn’t know me or what I was going to do for him and he just had so much enthusiasm. I was happy to be able to do something to make him happy.”
Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently purchased one of Dixon’s paintings as a present for former President Barack Obama for a Christmas Gift. It was of the par 3 12th hole at Augusta National Golf Club nicknamed “Golden Bell.” Now Dixon will get to see his favorite team kick off a potential run to the Super Bowl after grabbing the No. 2 seed in the AFC and hosting their first home playoff game in 25 years.
“This team right here, I know they can beat anybody,” Dixon said. “They could’ve beaten anybody last year, but they just weren’t ready — now is the time. And I don’t have any doubt that a Super Bowl is coming to Buffalo, if not this year, then the next three years.
“If we come to play hard, there’s not a team on this planet that can beat Buffalo.”