There was no way to possibly know at the time the Butterfly Effect a single touchdown would have, how a single play made in Baltimore by a team from Cincinnati would create an outpouring of generosity and love from Minneapolis to New Orleans.
With 53 seconds to play in their Week 17 game on New Year’s Eve, Andy Dalton tossed a 44-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd, giving the Cincinnati Bengals a 31-27 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The win meant nothing for Cincinnati — they finished the year at 7-9 — but it dropped Baltimore to 9-7 and out of the playoffs, and lifted the 9-7 Buffalo Bills into the AFC playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Buffalo, naturally, was ecstatic.
From Miami, to Buffalo, to New York City…
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2018
The Bills have one of the most shin-kicked histories in the NFL — the four straight Super Bowl losses, the NFL-worst 17-year playoff drought in a league carefully engineered to create as many competitive teams as possible — so when something good finally happened, their fans didn’t know what to do with themselves.
So they gathered up and donated to Andy Dalton’s charity.
In the week between the Bengals’ miracle win and the Bills’ subsequent playoff game, more than 15,000 Bills fans joined forces to donate more than $350,000 to the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation, whose mission is “to provide daily support, opportunities, resources and life-changing experiences to seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families in Cincinnati and Fort Worth.”
That generosity inspired Bengals fans to pay it forward. Who Dey fans are now donating to the foundation of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles as a thank you for knocking off the hated Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional round. As of Wednesday, more than 100 Bengals fans had contributed more than $5,000 to the Blake Bortles Foundation, which supports Jacksonville-area children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and also aids Jacksonville-area first responders.
“Fans are at the core of the football experience, and it’s truly exciting and rewarding when they band together, regardless of the team they cheer for, to make a positive impact in the lives of others,” the organization said on behalf of Bortles. “I greatly appreciate the support displayed by Bengals fans, and they should know their support will make a difference.”
And now the movement has spread to last Sunday’s Vikings-Saints game. Vikings fans, delirious in victory, were impressed by Saints punter Thomas Morestead, who suffered torn cartilage on the right side of his ribs while attempting to make a tackle but remained in the game. Thus, they have donated $150,000 and counting to his charity, What You Give Will Grow, which supports other New Orleans and Gulf Coast-based charities, focusing on children’s charities and cancer initiatives.
More than 150,000 yellow-and-purple dollars have been raised thus far.
— Children's Minnesota (@childrensmn) January 19, 2018
— Nick Alton (@NickAlton4) January 19, 2018
That generosity has inspired Morestead to come to Minnesota for the Super Bowl as a sign of appreciation.
— Thomas Morstead (@thomasmorstead) January 18, 2018
In a time when social media is tagged with a corrosive effect on society, who would have thought that the NFL — whose season started with J.J. Watt’s $37 million Hurricane Harvey relief fund — could show us all social media’s ability to create something good.