He has never played for the Buffalo Bills, but through his role in another game that helped secured the Bills' first trip to the playoffs in a generation, Andy Dalton has become a Buffalo fan favorite. So much so, that many Bills fans are saying "thank you" with gifts to his charitable foundation. Even Dalton is surprised by the surge.
The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback threw a game-winning touchdown pass late Sunday afternoon that lifted his team to victory over the Baltimore Ravens, eliminating that team from the postseason while giving the Bills the final available playoff position.
It made Dalton the most unlikely hero in recent Western New York sports history.
"This has been unbelievable," said Dalton during a Tuesday morning telephone interview with WBFO. "Obviously, what were able to do on Sunday helped them get into the playoffs and end their drought, but the overflow from Buffalo fans, it's really been unbelievable."
That overflow comes in the form of cash donations that are coming in to the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation, which provides assistance to children with illnesses or special needs in Cincinnati. It's an unprecedented surge in donations from fans of a football team other than Dalton's Bengals.
"The company that helps us run our foundation, Prolanthropy, they were just getting overflowed with emails and donations," said Dalton. "We talked to them and they were like, 'you don't realize how much is coming in. We're just going to have to keep giving you updates.' It's been crazy just how much they've supported us."
As of late Tuesday, more than 7,000 donations to the Foundation from Bills fans added up to $170,000. Many were $17 donations, symbolizing the number of years the Bills had missed the playoffs, though Dalton said some gifts were as modest as two dollars while others were as high as $1,000.