Following the Bills loss to the Patriots 24 – 25 on Monday’s season opener, Leodis McKelvin awoke to a rude reminder of his performance the night before. Someone had defaced his front lawn – where he lives with his family – with white spray paint, the score of the game alongside a phallic symbol.
This story has been plastered across news networks, condemned by many and disregarded by some. As of yesterday, two 16 year-olds admitted to to the act though McKelvin is refusing to press charges (admirably, I might add). The act for some players, like T.O. and Kawika Mitchell, was a reminder of legitimate security concerns that NFL players can face.
“It’s extremely dangerous when someone is going to come to your house and do anything that’s going to affect you,” Mitchell said.
McKelvin shrugged it off, saying he still considers Bills fans to be the greatest. That, however, does not excuse this incident. Bills fans need to be reminded that this is a game and that players will make mistakes. Was I angry and disappointed when McKelvin cost the Bills the game? Of course. Does that give me a right to interfere in his personal life? Absolutely not.
Think about the job that you do. If your mistake cost the company or organization in the form of a deal-breaker, a failed project or the like would it be acceptable for your colleagues to vandalize your office or home? Really. You’re better than that Buffalo and this kind of action needs to be condoned from within. Bills fans policing other fans.
Now I do understand that this was the action of young kids, who will make mistakes as young kids do. That having been said, there is an undercurrent of negative feelings and emotions that transcends almost all sports in all areas. The true danger is when people feel that it is acceptable to act on those feelings in a violent or invasive way.
I don’t care if you think that this action was non-violent in the sense that no one was physically harmed. But do not confuse this as a demonstration in the principle of freedom of speech. That freedom comes when you boo McKelvin as he comes off the field. It does not carry over into his front lawn and private property.
We love our teams and everything that they do for us. We love the community that forms around a sports franchise. But we need to remember where those boundaries are. This is not life and death, as much as it might feel like it sometimes.
Let’s have a little respect for our fellow fans, our players, our team. You stay classy Buffalo. Set the example, don’t be the example.