Squirrel Winter and the neighbors who helped pave the way for the Bills’ victory

Detroit Buffalo’s latest folk hero has had a moment in the sun and snow, and he’s ready to retreat into the shade.

“Squirrel” Winter and his family have run the Winter Farm on Burton Road in Orchard Park for generations. He added to his resume on Saturday, when he helped Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen out of a home run.

Bills QB Josh Allen talks about his neighbors taking him out

When the story is told of the Bills’ 31-23 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Detroit, it would not be complete without Squirrel Winter, without Mark Brown, without Mr. Dave and without dozens of others.

The Bills had help from all kinds of people within the organization to get the players safely to the facility on Saturday before their trip to Detroit. They also got crucial help from their neighbors.

But Squirrel Winter wasn’t interested in telling his side of the story.

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“No,” he said in a text to The Buffalo News. “I am just a kind-hearted farmer willing to help his neighbor.”

It is common to look for others in a place called the City of Good Neighbors. And that trend is likely to be revealed on a CBS broadcast when your neighbor is the star quarterback of the Buffalo Bills.

“They came in with a big old tractor and got me out of there,” Allen said of Winter and Brown. “I had a driveway about that big, and the radars in my car were beeping all the way down my driveway, because I felt like I was about to hit something.”

Instead, Allen managed to break out of his house, reach the facility, and eventually win the “home” match in Detroit.

Coach Sean McDermott made sure to acknowledge that Sunday at Ford Field.

“Everyone who’s back in Buffalo who’s currently looking to go again, we’re thinking of you guys and this (win) was for you,” McDermott said.

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While the Bills were away, Orchard Park totaled 80 inches of snow. A “severe” lake effect storm will continue to affect the area for days to come. Orchard Park was still restricted from traveling on Sunday. Ordinary people were quick to realize that Bill needed help, and these people will still handle the snow themselves as the area recovers.

Defensive end Shaq Lawson got help from his neighbors on other fronts, but it all came back to the same theme: connecting with those around you and seeing what they need.

“They swept me away and gave me food because I was hungry,” said Lawson. “They looked for me.”

Left guard Roger Savold tweeted that he now knows what it feels like to be in a “Rocky” training montage after walking through the snow all over. He left his house, which was starting to feel like a cave where the snow piled up higher.

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“I’ve never breathed so hard in my life,” Savold said after the match. And I was just kind of like, ‘Okay, am I ready for the game? But at the end of the day, I saw the community, and I saw the neighbors who were helping people.”

And Savold heard them, too. The day before kick-off in another city, he was getting applause for doing the deed.

“The guys are cheering me on, walking through the snow trying to get to the car, and it was amazing,” he said.

He would hear fans next in Detroit. All players applauded the crowd that arrived at Ford Stadium. However, even with a strong crowd and many of the same songs and stadium programs at a home game, it was an extraordinary experience.

“Sitting there and having to score in the Lions’ end zone was just weird for all of us,” Savold said. “And basically, it ends up feeling like another away game. But there is also a kind of advantage to being able to play that field twice.”

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When it comes to benefits, the Bills also believe that despite everything that’s been thrown at them this week, the team is emerging from the snow, chaos, and sudden trip to Detroit closer than before.

Among those who help him, said Ed Oliver, whose neighbor was Mr. Dave.

“Guys hang out and hang out. We chatted on Zoom and walked away feeling cool and off, just becoming a bond. “

One such case involves tight ends Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney. The way the lake effect storm turned, it hit Orchard Park first, but was moving north as the weekend went on. Sweeney, expecting his neighborhood to be hit hardest from Friday night through Saturday, goes to stay with his friend Knox.

“It was good. It wasn’t boring,” Knox said. A little sleep, it was great.”

Knox bought a home closer to the Bills’ facility over the summer, saying at training camp, before an eventual contract extension, that he knew he wanted to strengthen his ties here. Part of that was because of the team, but part of it was because of the community. On Saturday, he was reminded why.

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“They just showed up, without me asking or saying anything,” Knox said. “I look out my front window, and there are people walking in my driveway, and I also have a long driveway.”

He saw some new faces when he looked outside, too.

“I knew two of them,” Knox said. “But it was an initial introduction for a lot of them. So, big shout out to them.”

A number of players noted that running back Devin Singletary and linebacker Tyrell Dodson had the most memorable trips to the game. Singletary was one of my long walks.

“He had to walk to Main Street, but he had to walk through it all in the snow,” said wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie. “It was a lot. And the motors are kind of small.”

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Singletary is listed as 5-foot-7, or 67 inches. Snowfall in some areas reached 77 inches before the team left, and it was certainly higher in locations once the shoveling built up.

Dodson posted a video of his trek through nearly waist-deep snow.

“I made sure I opened the door for him and grabbed his bag, and said, ‘You okay? Safold said. “It’s like, ‘I’m not okay.’”

But Savold laughed as he said it, knowing that Dodson was already ready to laugh at himself. Whatever Saturday looked like for the players, they kept it in perspective, knowing that the rest of town was cruising in the snow as well, even as they took their time to chip away at the Bills.

“It’s called the City of Good Neighbors for a reason,” McDermott said. “I saw it in effect on Friday and Saturday.”

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The Bills will be back at Ford Field in a few days, to take on the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, as planned. But the next challenge is simply to return to all their streets, lanes and homes.

Asked how they’ll get home once the team returns to Buffalo, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips summed up the plan succinctly: “I have no idea.”

When Allen recounts his journey, he alludes to snow on the upcoming return trip.

“I’m sure it’s going to go on like this for a while,” Allen said.

Left tackle Deon Dawkins was ready for a massive run.

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“I mean, literally, it would be the exact same thing,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins, the self-proclaimed “Shnowman,” knows there’s a chance some of them may have already been removed.

“If they don’t,” he said, “we’ll go home and sweep that torch to our left and to our right.”

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