BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen was watching Tuesday night’s news, and when he saw the television coverage of the Buffalo Bills’ rookie class of 2017, being shown the “best of Buffalo”, the top city lawmaker admittedly “lost it.”
Rev. Pridgen is also one of Western New York’s best known pastors, and directed his ire at the Bills’ management for excluding the “real people of Buffalo”–those living in the neighborhoods, and not just passing through—from the tour.
Pridgen launched into a 15:00 tirade, on Facebook Live, preaching to the team’s management, “They never get exposed to South Buffalo, they never get exposed to the West Side, they never get exposed to the East Side.”
The main issue, according to Pridgen: Bills players are among the richest young men in Western New York but there was little interaction with members of the community who see them as role models.
“At the end of the day, when you take your new players, show them everything. Show them the struggling East Side, and struggling South Buffalo, West Side. Show them North Buffalo, but show them the real deal.”
The 2017 “Rookie Tour” started at the Bills’ complex in Orchard Park, proceeded to Niagara Falls, where the players got a taste of one of the world’s great natural wonders. The tour led to Canalside, and New Era Cap, the football stadium’s namesake.
Pridgen suggested the rookies could have gotten a better impression of Buffalo, by seeing the East Side, the old Rockpile where the Bills started, which is now a city recreation facility; or the African American Heritage Corridor, along Michigan St., and its link to the legendary Underground Railroad.
Pridgen also pointed out the West Side has become a melting pot of cultures, and South Buffalo which is in the midst of an economic renaissance.
The Bills reacted quickly to Pridgen’s Facebook rant, Chris Jenkins, the Bills’ Executive Director of Media Relations contacted Pridgen Wednesday afternoon, and the council president said he felt assured next year would be different.
A team spokesman told News 4 Jenkins had a “good conversation” with Pridgen, and left it at that. Pridgen called their talk “a good first step.”