Niagara Gazette

November 21, 2013

DELUCA: Bills fan has a hard fall from grace

By Michele DeLuca commentary
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — My husband and I were having dinner with my oldest son the other day when he told us he knows that guy who fell onto another fan at Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game.

After talking with my son about his friend. I could feel a turnabout in my reaction to the event.

When I first heard the story, I felt queasy. Who among us can’t picture themselves enjoying a Bills game on a beautiful sunny day, minding our own business? Nobody ever thinks that some knucklehead will fall on us from the deck up above.

But as I learned more about the young man, it was like someone had refocused the lens on my awareness and suddenly the poor, unsuspecting fan who was fallen upon went out of my focus and the young man who fell upon him came into focus.

Clearly, the faller made some bad choices, chief among them deciding it would be cool to slide down a railing at the edge of the top deck of seats.

Crazy, right? I’ve been in the upper decks. I don’t even like to stand up by those seats, they’re so far from the ground.  Who would mess around up there?

But, the other night at dinner, hearing about what’s happened to this guy, I couldn’t help but feel for him.

After the video of his fall went viral, he was fired from his job at at Eric Mower and Associates. His employer announced the firing on Facebook. The Bills banned him from the stadium — forever. Add to his punishment that he hurt someone with his thoughtless behavior, in an action which will be available to watch again and again on the Internet until the end of time. The road for this guy is bound to go steeply uphill for a while.

My son, who is not one to suffer fools gladly, described his friend as an intelligent, kind and funny young man. 

Because I respect my son’s opinion, I had to reconsider my own.

I imagine most of us, at one time or another, have done something colossally stupid and just got lucky that things didn’t end badly.

While my initial response was to feel deep sympathy for the man who was fallen upon, I now — knowing the rest of the story — also feel deep sympathy for the man who fell.

To him — as the mother of his friend — I would like to say this:

Surely you wish this never happened to you, but what I have learned repeatedly in my years, is that you don’t want to wish someone away from an experience that could shape their character and their destiny, because even the most horrific events are rich with opportunity for personal growth.

There are two paths that lie ahead for you. You can let that horrible day in the stadium define you and perhaps destroy the very best that you are or you can use the event as an opportunity to evolve into an even better human.

I’m certain you already know all this, as every child is taught some form of what I’m saying here, but I also know from experience that we forget the most important life lessons, just when we need them most.

Take the consequences of your actions bravely and do not complain. Make it right as best you can with the most integrity you can muster.

You’re getting beat up in the media and online. Forgiving yourself for this incident will be the hardest. Flog yourself a little if you must, but then get on with the business of living.

You’ve received a hard lesson, at your own hand, but there’s a strong possibility that it could be your most important lesson.

Lastly, during this public humiliation, you will learn who your friends are. They will understand what we all inherently know but often forget — that while there are many of us who would have never done anything as wild and risky as what you did, we likely all know and care about at least one other person who might.