Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's lockdown edicts didn't allow for a single Buffalo Bills fan to attend a game all season, and now tens of thousands of fans are demanding that the governor be banned from the stadium for the playoffs.
What are the details?
The Bills capped off a historic season last Sunday by trouncing the Miami Dolphins 56-26 to complete a sweep of their division for the first time ever and secure a No. 2 seed for the AFC playoffs, but sadly, at no point during the regular season were fans allowed to watch from inside the stadium.
All season long, stringent health guidelines from the state prevented fans from entering the stadium for fear of spreading the coronavirus. Despite persistent urging from fans, both Gov. Cuomo and New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker never budged. That is, until the playoffs rolled around.
Last week, the state finally granted permission for the team to host 6,772 fans — or just under 10% capacity — for its home Wild Card game on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. Fans permitted entry will be required to wear masks and socially distance during the game as well as test negative for COVID-19 prior to coming and at their own expense.
But upon hearing Cuomo's plans, one fan launched a Change.org petition to ban the governor from entering the stadium, arguing that die-hard fans who have been rooting for the team for decades have a greater right to attend than he does.
"So Cuomo is going to attend our playoff game after telling us that we can only attend at less than 10% capacity?" petition creator Jeffrey Dorenzo wrote. "If he thinks he has more right to a seat in that stadium over people who have waited over 20 years for this opportunity, then people better be there to protest his entry. This is OUR team! This is OUR home. We don't want you here."
The petition, created seven days ago, has steadily picked up steam and as of Wednesday morning boasted nearly 40,000 signatures.
While a popular petition doesn't have the power to actually ban Cuomo from games, it certainly does send a message to the governor about the Western New York community's feelings toward his lockdown measures.
In an update posted Wednesday on the petition web page, titled "A message to Cuomo," Dorenzo blasts the governor, saying "you're not even a Bills fan" before laying into him over his handling of the pandemic.
"Lawsuits are popping up left and right because the people have had enough of your crippling effect," he wrote. "People's livelihoods are being destroyed. Everything they've worked for being taken from them. People tapping into their 401k's, annuities, investments, retirements, and savings to make ends meet," he wrote. "But you know who isn't struggling? Andrew Cuomo!"