PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WIVB) – Some of the Bills players went to Bandits games and now Bandits players are returning the support as Dhane Smith and Ian MacKay went to training camp on Wednesday. They even brought the NLL Cup to practice and after Kaiir Elam was hoping he could channel some of those championship vibes for the Bills.
“For sure, I tried to rub off on it, and hopefully it rubs off on us,” Elam said.
The Bandits beat the Colorado Mammoth in game three to win their first NLL title since 2008 and the fan excitement hasn’t died down since.
“People are still coming up to us, it’s pretty cool to see,” Smith said. “I kind of always had that, when you’re walking around people say ‘Good luck this weekend,’ all that stuff, but now it’s ‘Thank you so much for bringing a championship home,’ like they’re thanking you like you saved the world. It’s pretty cool to see.”
Elam got very into the Bandits championship run last season and even went to a bunch of games including their NLL title clinching game three.
“Very inspiring, you know what I mean. I fell in love with that sport, I love the guys, they all great guys, Dhane, Josh, Max, Chase, all those guys, you know what I’m saying. Great human beings off the field,” Elam said.
“It was cool to just catch up and see them again. I’m happy they came to support, because I tried to support them as much as I could.”
And Smith felt the same, wanting to return that support as the trophy continued its victory tour.
“We obviously wanna give back to the best of our ability and be at training camp to see them play their game that they love, it’s pretty cool to be a part of and obviously being able to bring the trophy, to be able to give back to the fans because they support us all year,” Smith explained.
Smith said he’s gone to the Bills home opener the past seven or eight years and this year he got season tickets. He did joke he grew up a Packers fan but quickly switched over to the Bills once Buffalo became such a huge part of his life.
“They’re exciting to watch, I was a quarterback growing up, he’s a lot better than me,” Smith laughed.
“But it’s pretty cool to see how he works in the offseason, all that stuff,” Smith continued. “Stefon Diggs is an unbelievable player, I always gotta show support to the defensive guys as well. It’s just a crazy game and these guys are huge, they make me look small so it’s pretty cool to see.”
Other players came over to check out the cup including Dalton Kincaid, Reid Ferguson and Quintin Morris. Plus owner Terry Pegula came over to see the trophy in person and pose for a picture.
Bandits long-time public address announcer Chris Swenson came up with the idea to bring the trophy to practice as it was his two days with the cup. And of course, the heart and soul of the Bandits, his son Brett, was also a part of the day.
Buffalo sports fans are hoping there was a symbolic meaning in this day: one championship team watching a future championship team.
For now, the Bills get ready for the start of the season while the Bandits try to defend their title.
“We have the momentum now and hopefully we can keep that train going,” Smith said.
Digital sports reporter Jonah Bronstein contributed.