Heath Farwell has been in Buffalo for a little more than a year.
Most of his time as the Bills' special teams coordinator has been spent spent either on sidelines of the practice field or in a dark film room.
Opportunities like Friday, then, are special. Farwell was one of at least 10 assistant coaches to visit St. Luke's Mission of Mercy to serve lunches and assemble meals. He was joined by Rob Boras (tight ends), John Butler (defensive backs), John Egorugwu (defensive quality control), Terry Heffernan (assistant offensive line), Marc Lubick (offensive quality control), Matthew Smiley (assistant special teams), Kelly Skipper (running backs), Jim Salgado (defensive assistant) and Shea Tierney (offensive assistant).
"So much of our stuff (during the season) is talking ball -- chalk board talk and all that stuff," Farwell said. "So to get out here and not even talk football at all, it's fun to get on that different level."
Farwell started his afternoon by helping serve lunches to more than 30 kids, most of whom were dressed in Bills gear. After the "Shout" song played, each of the assistant coaches introduced themselves and explained which players on the roster they worked with. Heffernan got one of the biggest rounds of applause when he mentioned how he coaches the "big guys" who help protect quarterback Josh Allen.
"We're excited to be here. It's fun to be with the kids. It's something that we get a lot out of," Farwell said. "We enjoy giving back as much as we can. A lot of us coaches have kids, so it's just extra special to us. I see my own kids in some of these kids, so it's really cool to be a part of them."
The day of service for the assistant coaches has become an annual tradition organized by team chaplain Len Vanden Bos. In addition to Friday’s visit, the Bills’ coaching staff assists Habitat for Humanity in an event every June.
“Our players, throughout the whole season have opportunities. Most Tuesdays, guys are out in the community doing stuff and coaches are grinding away working,” Vanden Bos said. “A lot of times, coaches will say ‘I wish we could get out and do stuff,’ but they're so deep in game planning. So I never have a problem getting coaches. They're always willing to serve. They’ve got busy schedules, but (never pass on an) opportunity to give back.”
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The Bills announced an addition to their coaching staff Friday, hiring Jacques Cesaire as assistant defensive line coach. Cesaire will assist new defensive line coach Eric Washington.
Cesaire replaces Aaron Whitecotton, who is leaving to take a job with the San Francisco 49ers. Whitecotton had been the assistant defensive line coach the past two seasons and was head coach Sean McDermott’s assistant in 2017.
Cesaire, 39, comes to the Bills after five years as the assistant defensive line coach at the University of San Diego. Cesaire played nine years with the San Diego Chargers from 2003 to 2011, appearing in 125 games with 217 tackles and 12.5 sacks.
Washington, who previously worked with McDermott with the Carolina Panthers, replaced Bill Teerlinck, who was named defensive line coach at Virginia Tech last month.