By Thomas Grant Jr.
Tyler Bass has experienced his share of highs and lows in four seasons with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
The former Dutch Fork placekicker and sixth-round draft pick out of Georgia Southern has been celebrated in his pro career for game-winning field goals and playing a role in winning four straight division titles.
Before this season, he received a 4-year contract extension worth up to $21 million with $12.3 million guaranteed.
Since last Sunday, however, Bass has dealt with the negative side of being a professional athlete on a losing team in an important game. It has forced him into a lower profile for now.
Buffalo lost to defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City 27-24 in the AFC Divisional playoffs. It was the third straight loss in the post-season for the Chiefs, who travel to Baltimore for the AFC championship game Sunday.
It was another heartbreaking defeat for a fanbase that has suffered its share. That the loss took place at home only added to the pain.
That agony and frustration have turned toward anger toward Bass. Buffalo had an opportunity to tie the game to tie the game with 1:47 left in the fourth quarter with a 44-yard field goal in the windy, wintry conditions at Highmark Stadium.
Bass’ attempt hooked wide right to the disappointment of Bills’ fans who went through a similar heartbreak in the Super Bowl XXV loss to the New York Giants.
Like Scott Norwood, who also went wide right on the potential game-winning field goal, Bass was immediately consoled and supported by teammates.
“I wish it wouldn’t have been put in that situation,” Quarterback Josh Allen told Yahoo Sports. “You win as a team; you lose as a team. One play doesn’t define a game, it doesn’t define a season. I know people are going to be out there saying that. We got to be there for him, because again, we execute a couple of plays prior, probably singing a different tune right now.”
Bass also took full accountability for answering post-game questions at his locker, not placing blame on anyone for the snap or hold.
“Ultimately, it’s completely on me. I’ve got to do a better job,” Bass told the reporters. “I’ve got to do a better job of playing it a little bit more left when you have a left-to-right [wind]. I’ve been here long enough to know that you have to do that.”
Despite having complete backing from the organization, Bass has found himself inundated by less than forgiving observers. Reports indicate he has deactivated both his X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram accounts after reportedly receiving numerous threatening messages.
Fortunately for Bass, his support base is extensive. Among the first people to contact him was his former high school coach Tom Knotts.
“Put it behind you and move on,” said Knotts in a message. “Most of the fans think kicking is easy – nobody has been through more than you to get where you are.
“To hell with the naysayers. There were at least 12 plays in that game that could’ve changed the outcome – unfortunately, yours was the last.
“Anyone who thinks kicking is easy is ignorant- especially in Buffalo with swirling wind and 0 degrees. You make 5 mil for a reason – now regroup, take some time, and get back to work. This will not be your defining moment! Dutch Fork remains proud of you!”
Since Monday, Ten Lives Club, a cat rescue, and adoption agency in Hamburg, New York Bass has worked with in the past, has been the beneficiary of his association.
Ten Lives Club has received heavy donations of $22 in honor of Bass, who wears number 2 for the Bills.
The agency then posted a message of support on its Facebook page:
WE STAND WITH TYLER BASS. DON’T BULLY OUR FRIEND We just heard the terrible news that Tyler Bass is receiving threats after yesterday’s game and our phones are ringing off the hook from people who want to donate $22 to Ten Lives Club in Tyler’s name.
Tyler doesn’t deserve any of the hate he’s receiving. He’s an excellent football player and an even better person who took the time to help our organization and rescue cats last year. Leave our friend alone.
Ten Lives Club has also reposted an Instagram picture of Bass holding a cat as part of its Show Your Soft Side campaign. The organization has reported raising $28,000 in donations since Tuesday.
“Leave our friend alone. He’s a great guy. He’s a good person and we think you should leave him alone,” Kimberly LaRussa, public relations manager for Ten Lives Club told television station WIVB in Buffalo, NY. “We’re Tyler Bass’ biggest fans here at Ten Lives Club. It’s not every day that a celebrity that helps out an organization, and he is a celebrity that does.”
Visit www.tenlivesclub.com or call 716-646-5577 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.