Buffalo superfan Ezra Castro, aka 'Pancho Billa,' dies after cancer battle

Yahoo Sports

There are not too many NFL franchises that have a closer bond between the team and its fans than the Buffalo Bills, and the Bills Mafia lost one of its biggest supporters Tuesday morning.

Ezra Castro, aka “Pancho Billa,” died at the age of 39 after a long fight with stage-4 pancreatic cancer. He became a source of inspiration for Bills fans during his battle and was a fan of the team — and a big piece of it — until his final moments.

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The Bills even put together a commemoration video to honor Castro on Tuesday.

When the Bills selected Ed Oliver with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, the team’s scouting staff — led by Bills GM Brandon Beane — broke the news of the pick to Castro first before making it official.

Watch Beane call up Castro in his hospital bed with the Oliver news and then allow him to call in the selection.

Former Bills player Coy Wire announced the team’s third-round selection, RB Devin Singletary, and FaceTimed Castro and his family during the pick from Nashville:

Last year, Castro was in Dallas for the 2018 NFL draft and was pulled on stage by Bills legends Andre Reed and Fred Jackson to make the pick. Castro made that selection — Stanford DT Harrison Phillips — in Round 3 and earned fans from the other 31 franchises who supported his fight.

Now Phillips and Oliver are likely going to line up next to each other on the Bills’ defensive line for the next several seasons, hopefully carrying on a piece of Castro’s memory. Castro went into hospice in April, and Phillips reached out on draft weekend to FaceTime the superfan for some words of encouragement.

Oliver even got to meet Castro before his death. But shortly after joining the team, the first-round pick already had studied up on the superfan’s impact on his new franchise.

There even was a petition for the Bills to sign Castro to a one-day contract with the team prior to his death. That never came to fruition. But Castro and his patented phrase — “Viva Los Bills” — will live on in his honor.

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