The Buffalo Bills already have made a selection for this week’s NFL Draft.
However, no matter how enthusiastic and loyal Mark Derringer is when it comes to the Bills, he won’t be much help on the field.
The 64-year-old Derringer became the winner of a lottery among Bills’ season-ticket holders, and will be the team’s fan representative at the NFL Draft in Chicago.
“They called me back in March,” the Lancaster resident said. “They had to give you enough notice to clear your schedule. I found out last Friday that two other people couldn’t make it, so I was the third choice.
“This was too good an opportunity to pass up. It should be a good experience.”
Each NFL team has selected one fan to attend the draft, all expenses paid. Derringer, who has been a season-ticket holder since 1977, went to the Bills’ offices last week for a briefing and to pick up items such as a hat, jacket, shirts and team souvenirs. He also picked up his plane tickets, as he flew to Chicago Wednesday.
The formal schedule began Wednesday night, when Derringer went to a private NFL party that featured appearances by ex-players. On Thursday morning, all fan representatives go through a rehearsal at the site of the draft, the Auditorium Theater.
On Thursday night, Derringer will carry an official Bills’ hat to the stage during an opening ceremony. Then when it’s the Bills’ turn to pick, Derringer will emerge from a room to bring an official Bills jersey to give to Commissioner Roger Goodell, who will pass it on to the draft choice.
“My camera time figures to be zero,” Derringer said. “They only shoot the stage when the commissioner announces a selection.”
When the first round ends, Derringer’s official responsibilities are over. He’s invited to attend Friday’s portion of the draft (Rounds 2 & 3), and he’ll fly home on Saturday.
Derringer, a building engineer for CBRE/ADP in Williamsville, was allowed to take someone along. He chose his friend Mike Naab.
“He’s also a season-ticket holder, another long-suffering fan,” Derringer said. “We haven’t made the playoffs in 16 years. I wish I could have brought all of the other season-ticket holders along.”