When the wildcard and divisional rounds of the NFL playoffs come around, January weekends seem to take on the fervor of March Madness in full swing. This intensity was no better exemplified than in the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears last Sunday.
With less than 10 seconds remaining and a chance to take the lead and advance to the next round of playoffs, Bears kicker Cody Parkey lined up for a 43-yard field goal. Unfortunately for Bears’ fans, Parkey missed (read: ball blocked by a fingertip), hitting the upright and sending fans into pandemonium.
After the initial shock had worn off, Philadelphia fans needed a deity to whom they could give thanks. Who better than Cody Parkey? Fans began “Venmoing” the kicker money as a thank you. He eventually had to shut down his account due to the overwhelming amount of payments. This, however, is not the first time opponents of the losing team have thrown money at a player who won the game for them. Here are three examples from last year’s NFL playoffs of fans ponying up and giving money to athletes and their charities.
There is much to be said for Buffalo Bills fans. In short, they care — a lot. In 2018, they were looking for a trip to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Their pending success all rode on one game. They needed the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the heavily favored Baltimore Ravens. When Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw a late touchdown pass to seal the victory and send the Bills to the playoffs, Bills fans began sending a slew of $17 dollar donations — referencing their playoff drought — to Dalton’s charity. In the final tally later that year, the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation had collected $415,000 in donations.
Last January, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles eliminated the Pittsburgh Steelers, a major Cincinnati rival, from playoff contention. Echoing the sentiments of their new brethren in Buffalo, Bengals fans decided it was their turn to fill the collection plate. The Blake Bortles Foundation ultimately raised $5,000 from Bengals fans. Unlike the aforementioned Buffalo game, where the Bills indirectly received a playoff berth due to Dalton’s touchdown pass, the Bengals gained nothing from the Steelers loss but the schadenfreude of Pittsburgh not winning the Super Bowl.
Perhaps the most warming act of last year’s NFL playoffs came after the Minnesota Vikings had just defeated the New Orleans Saints. The game was over after a last second touchdown from the Vikings and Saints players headed for the locker room — except for the punter, Thomas Morstead. The Vikings still had to attempt an extra point as stated in the rule book. Morstead lined up and coaxed enough Saints back from the locker room to put an end to their heartbreaking loss. Because of Morstead’s show of good sportsmanship, Minnesota fans rallied to donate money to Morestead’s charity, What You Give Will Grow. The over $200,000 in proceeds eventually made their way to child life programs at Children’s Hospital in Minnesota.
While the NFL playoffs are a great time to gather friends and family together and root for your favorite team, just remember that if an opponent makes a bone-headed play to win you the game, he probably has a charity that could use your donation!