The Buffalo Bills gave out 70,000 tickets for Friday’s return of the Blue and Red practice at Highmark Stadium.
Mason Schrantz didn’t need one, though.
For one day, the Dunkirk youngster was as much a part of the team as Josh Allen and Von Miller after signing a one-day contract and being granted field access for the evening.
Props to the folks at One Bills Drive.
The NFL team has offered its support for Mason since he was diagnosed with Stage IV lymphoma in December 2017. A year later — and declared cancer free — Buffalo safety Jordan Poyer took him Christmas shopping.
Fast-forward to yesterday.
Accompanied by his father, Dominic, and his younger brother, Carter, Mason was escorted into a meeting room at the Bills’ facilities in Orchard Park by head coach Sean McDermott. After Mason was greeted by rousing applause, McDermott introduced him to his new “teammates.”
“This is Mason, his dad and his brother,” said McDermott, whose comments were captured on a video that was posted to the team’s official Twitter account. “We’re happy to have you here as a Buffalo Bill for one day.”
After a second round of applause, McDermott said he asked Mason whose place he wanted to take in the lineup.
“We offered up the quarterback spot. He said he’d rather have Josh play quarterback,” McDermott said, “but he did say he wanted to take Stefon Diggs’ spot tonight.”
Laughter ensued, and then McDermott asked Mason if he had anything he wanted to share with the team.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said.
But his dad did.
“I want you guys to fight like he did,” Dominic said to the squad. “We watched so many of your games from the hospital.”
That included the game in December 2017 when the Bills won at Miami and then Cincinnati upset Baltimore to end Buffalo’s 18-year playoff drought.
“That was the turning point,” Dominic said.
Before McDermott excused the players, he told them to “come up and we’ll break it right down with Mason.”
With the team surrounding him, Mason raised his right arm and said, “one, two, three.”
Then, the youngster from Dunkirk and his new teammates yelled, in unison, “Bills!”