Hometown of Bills players celebrate AFC Championship weekend as Chiefs’ Mahomes cleared to play


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes enters the injury tent during the second half of an NFL divisional round football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NewsNation Now) — Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was cleared Friday from the league’s concussion protocol after his third consecutive day of practice and will be under center when Kansas City plays the Buffalo Bills in the AFC championship game.

Mahomes was hurt in the third quarter of the Chiefs’ divisional-round win over Cleveland. He returned to take the majority of snaps in a light workout Wednesday, then did the same again during the longest practice of the week Thursday.

The reigning Super Bowl MVP was examined by team physicians and an independent neurologist after Friday’s workout, the final step in getting out of the NFL concussion protocol. They ultimately gave Mahomes, who has also been dealing with a minor toe injury, the go-ahead to play in his third consecutive conference title game.

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While the Bills’ players are preparing for the game, fans in their hometowns are also celebrating too. That includes Fostoria, OH, where Bills safety Micah Hyde grew up. After the Cleveland Browns lost to the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round, residents there realized they had another team to support during the playoffs.

Audrey Keels, a family friend of Hyde, says she watched him grow up and turn into the football player he is today. Because of that, she wanted to find a way to rally his hometown around him.

She put together “Micah Hyde Week.” Area schools took part in coloring contests, residents decorated their homes in Bills’ colors, and Keels was even able to raise money for Hyde’s organization, Imagine for Youth.

“This is a small town of 13,000,” she told NewsNation affiliate WIVB. “It was just amazing how people were celebrating, just celebrating.”

Another small town further west has also adopted the Buffalo Bills as their team this weekend.

Firebaugh, CA, resident Markus Espinoza inducted himself into Bills Mafia ahead of the Baltimore Ravens game last weekend by jumping through a folding table. He says he wanted to do it to show support for Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who grew up there.

“You got our hometown kid, and we’re just so proud of him and all the accomplishments that he’s been able to create,” Espinoza said.

Hours after his trip through the folding table, the Bills beat the Ravens, and Espinoza, who played on the same football team as Allen in high school, grabbed his Bills flag and drove around Firebaugh. That’s when he came up with and idea of how the city could really get behind their “hometown kid.”

“We knew we wanted to do something special to show our support, so we made these flags up and we’re going to put them on every single light post in Firebaugh down our Main Street,” Espinoza said. “I knew people would want to get behind it right away. Anything surrounding Josh, surrounding the Bills, we’re all for it, we’re all behind it.”

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WIVB contributed to this report.

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