Sunday’s game ball went to a player with one catch for 7 yards.
Logan Thomas wasn’t the hero the Bills needed to beat the Raiders. He was their champion in a much larger sense of the word.
Thomas and his wife, Brandie, were ecstatic to learn in early October that they’d be blessed with a baby girl after having four boys. “New team member coming April 2018,” he posted on Twitter.
The next update was nearly beyond comprehension.
“Our precious girl Brooklynn Rose Thomas was born Tues @ 9:48pm,” Thomas wrote. “For whatever reason God was ready to hold our little girl. She is so loved.”
Thomas said there had been no indication anything was wrong with the pregnancy. He and his wife went in for a routine checkup this week before everything changed.
Veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and his wife, Manjanique, found out quickly through text messages with members of their team's Bible study group and immediately sprung to action. Alexander hosts a group of players that includes Thomas, Tyrod Taylor and maybe a dozen others, while a wives group meets weekly at Kyle Williams’ house. Group chats buzzed deep into the night as Bills families split up days to cook for the Thomases and babysit their boys. Coach Sean McDermott took a moment Wednesday to ask the rest of the players to keep Thomas and his family in their prayers.
“It’s really sobering, I guess, in the sense that we realize football is just our job and a game,” Alexander said of how the news hit the team. “That’s real-life stuff. I’m just fortunate enough to have a great relationship with him, and his wife and my wife are close and we were able to just help and love on him as a team during this week.
“For him to come out and play in this game is huge for us, because that’s just a hard situation – you don’t even know what to say. How do you deal with something like that? I think our team has done a great job of wrapping our arms around him, loving him up, and have to continue through that process because he and his family are still dealing with this.”
Thomas’ lone appearance on the stat sheet of Sunday’s 34-14 win came in the form of a 7-yard catch in the first quarter. He’s mostly a run-blocking tight end. But on a week when no one would’ve faulted him for staying home, his mere presence was enough to inspire others.
“It meant a lot,” said Taylor, who goes back with Thomas to their Virginia Tech days. “Just because you know all the different emotions that’s going through his mind … I’m proud of him for being able to stand strong, proud of his wife, proud of his family. It’s a lot just going through. I’m glad we were able to pull out a win for him. He got the game ball today and he definitely deserved it.”
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) October 29, 2017
Thomas said he leaned on his faith to power him through the week. He didn’t get caught up in wondering why. As McDermott might say, he simply trusted God’s process.
“Strength comes from my father and savior, Jesus Christ,” Thomas said. “He’s all-knowing, all-powerful. I prayed just to give me strength, and He did so, from the time we found out to where we’re at today.”
Thomas said his wife even made it out to Sunday’s game, cheering the team on to victory.
“I applaud her strength for being able to come out and watch the game,” he said. “We have some family in town which makes it a little easier, but I have a strong God and a strong wife as well.”
Thomas, 26, has already been through massive ups and downs in his NFL career. He was a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 as a quarterback and appeared in two games during his rookie year before bouncing around the league. Last season, he agreed to give up his quarterbacking dreams and make the transition to tight end, which was as hard on his self-esteem as it was on his body and brain to learn a new position. He caught his first career touchdown pass earlier this month and continues to inspire this resilient team.
“This is a close family, it really is,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “Some guys that I might have known for a year or two years, or I might have known them for two weeks or two months, we kind of have that bond. I don’t want to let the guy next to me down. An example of that with Logan just shows you the type of commitment we make to each other. We play together, we fight. … You know, it’s hard to beat a team like that. I think the talent kind of goes out the window, the athletic ability from players goes out the window, and you have that big heart. And here, guys bleed and guys want to win.”
The high of the victory will surely be short-lived for Thomas, who returned to more pressing issues after leaving the locker room.
The hurt may never stop, but neither will the love.
Thomas has family and a brotherhood around him to help pick up the pieces. Employees in the organization who have gone through similar circumstances have reached out to offer support and guidance. Dinners will keep showing up at their house. Alexander and others will continue to invite their boys over to play.
Thomas said he wants to help others who are going through something similar. Much like the Bills, they have no choice but to keep fighting.
“That was huge,” Thomas said of finally having a daughter. “That made it a little bit tougher. It was one of those things, ‘are we ever going to get a girl?’ And we ended up having a girl and what happened, happened. It made it tough, but we’ll fight and we’ll get at it and we’ll be all right.”