The faculty at East Aurora Middle School received the call around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer, touched and impressed by a letter he received from 12-year-old sixth grader Logan Neri, wanted to stop by and surprise him…within an hour.
And just in time, Farmer, who was also informed of how Neri sometimes struggled to fit in with his peers, was drawn to begin a visit that will be just as memorable for him as it was for Neri and everyone at the school. .
Last month, via Austin Air, the school won a meeting with Bills players. An injury sustained in the previous game prevented Poyer from participating.
“I would have done anything to see Jordan Poyer,” Neri told head coach Matt Brown.
On Monday, Neri, with the help of his English teacher, Courtney Vitello, composed and typed a letter to Farmer.
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“He sat down with me with all the brainstormed ideas of what he wanted to say,” Vitello said. “He wanted Farmer to know that he was just as important as Josh Allen.”
Neri said he “just wanted to let him know he’s my favorite player because of the way he plays. Farmer and mostly the defense, they don’t get a lot of credit.
Excerpts from the letter included:
“I just wanted to thank you for considering coming to East Aurora Middle School during our assembly a few weeks ago. … I want you to know that I believe the struggles you are going through are challenging, but you have made a difference to me and Impacted my actions these past months to continue to do my best and persevere. …
“You made a difference because the way you play makes me want to play football as a safety or D-lineman. You also show me how to be a good teammate and use proper sportsmanship. I know you can’t always be in the spotlight , but in my opinion that good sportsmanship also puts you in the spotlight.
“The point of this letter is really to show you how great you are and how you’ve impacted my behavior and sportsmanship in sixth grade so far.”
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Farmer was shocked by the thoroughness of the letter.
“Just to think that a kid here calls me a hero and some of the things he went through, I felt like it was a great opportunity to try to impact him as much as I can, show him some Positive light,” he told The Buffalo. News. “His letter was very, very detailed and very organized, and I had to read it twice because it didn’t sound like it was coming from a sixth grader.”
Vitello said Neri didn’t want the letter to be “super long. We just took his ideas and he’s just such a beautiful writer, he has the vocabulary and it was all his ideas. I just helped it out.” Organize and see where he wants to go with it.”
The school sent the letter to Avalon Sports, which directs Poyer’s off-the-field marketing.
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Poyer recorded an inspirational video for Neri, but the surprises were just beginning. He made the 20-minute drive from the Bills’ facility to East Aurora and was greeted by Brown and assistant principal Matt Liebrock. The original plan was to walk Neri into Brown’s office, where Farmer would present an autographed No. 21 game-worn jersey.
“Let’s go down and get him,” he told Brown and Liebrock.
They went outside the boys’ locker room, where Neri was still in swimming class. When Neri entered through the door, he shouted: “Jordan farmer?! Oh my god! Let’s go!” and rushed into the farmer’s arms.
“That was awesome,” Poyer said later. “You can’t explain much of the feeling when he sees you for the first time and jumps into your arms.”
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After going back to Brown’s office, Farmer handed Neri the jersey and asked Neri to sign a copy of his letter (“I’ll get that put in,” Farmer said). They sat down at a conference table and spent time talking about gaming, football, family and life.
Poyer invited Neri and his family — his parents, brother (age 13) and sister (ages 9 and 6) to the Bills’ Jan. 8 finale against the New England Patriots. (“I’ve never been in a real stadium,” Neri said.)
The conversation was free-flowing, the 12-year-old just as comfortable as someone twice his age meeting Poyer for the first time.
“Life is full of misfortune,” Farmer told Neri. “You just have to learn how to deal with it and keep moving. What’s important is what’s in your heart. Don’t worry about what anyone says about you. You have a great group of people around here who Support her.”
Vitello was among those watching in the doorway to Brown’s office.
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“I started crying. I had to step aside for a moment, she said and took a break from overseeing a synagogue. “I was so happy for Logan. He’s a kid who needs this. To see someone like Poyer make that connection and see it unfold, it was unbelievable. I’ve never seen Logan smile so big. He’s usually the kid. Who can crack a joke and make people laugh. To see his eyes light up, it just made my day.”
The meeting was over. Again, however, the farmer had another idea.
Poyer walked Nery, who said he would wear the jersey while watching Bills games starting Sunday against the New York Jets, back upstairs to band class (he plays the trumpet). The students’ jaws dropped when Farmer introduced himself and explained to the teacher why Neri was late.
There was a point to that.
“I wanted them to see it,” Farmer said. “I wanted his peers to see him with me. He’s going through a lot, so I can have an impact on him in any positive way, I can hope that it helps him and starts to lead him in the right direction. I hope that It goes.”
The memory ultra-fresh in her mind, Vitello is sure it will.
“It gives Logan a confidence boost, for sure,” she said. “He just needs that little push. I can see him taking everything Farmer has told him and continuing to put his best foot forward.