More than team pride at stake in Jaguars-Bills playoff game

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There's a lot more than pride riding on Sunday's AFC Wild Card game between the Jaguars and the Bills.

The game will also determine the outcome of a friendly wager Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry placed during a Skype session Friday with Byron Brown, his counterpart in Buffalo.

Let's just say the stakes are mouthwatering.

If the Jaguars lose, Curry will send a shipment of Firehouse Subs and Intuition Ale up north. Should the Bills lose, Jacksonville will receive a batch of Buffalo wings straight from the source.

While the teams sparred on social media earlier this week, the mayors kept trash talk to a minimum and instead emphasized their common ground.

"We are hard-working people. We stand beside each other. We help each other in good times and tough times. And I know that's how people in Buffalo are as well," Curry said.

With the Jaguars playing in their first playoff game in a decade and the Bills making the postseason for the first time in 17 years, emotions are at an all-time high.

Those emotions were evident Friday at Wing-It Restaurant and Sports Pub in Mandarin, a local  Buffalo Bills bar where blue and red colors -- not teal -- were on display.

"On Sundays we have 150 to 200 Buffalo fans come and just about every TV is on Buffalo," owner Charleen Morency said. " ... Every time they score, it's the shout song and it's just crazy fun."

Morency said they're expecting as many as 1,000 Bills fans to flock to Wing-It over the weekend, fans like Alex Spicola.

"May the best team win. Obviously, I'm going to be happier if the Bills win. If the Jags win, I'll still be happy to have someone to root for. But I just hope for a good game," Spicola said.

On the other side of town, Jaguars fans dining at Firehouse Subs on Cassatt Avenue were surprised by mascot Jaxson de Ville and some of the ROAR cheerleaders.

"Everybody is super excited, the energy here is awesome and I'm just so excited that we're part of the city during this time," said Amber Russell.

Side Bet

Fans and city officials aren't the only ones getting pumped for the big game. The Buffalo Zoo and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens are adding some excitement to the mix with a wager of their own.

Here's how it works: If the Bills win, the Jacksonville Zoo will make a contribution to the North American Bison Coalition, a consortium of conservationists dedicated to raising awareness for the bison species. The zoo would also send some chocolate-covered popcorn to Buffalo.

On the flip side, the Buffalo Zoo will contribute to the Rupuni Wildlife Research Unit, a group that performs research in Guyana where Jaguars are a native species. Plus, the Buffalo Zoo would throw in some sponge candy, a local delicacy.

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