HAMBURG, N.Y. -- Bills players are concerned with their privacy and safety after the front lawn of a home belonging to cornerback Leodis McKelvin was vandalized following Buffalo's season-opening loss to New England.
Hamburg police on Tuesday confirmed the home of a Bills player was vandalized, but declined to release details of their investigation after an obscenity and the score of Monday night's game -- a 25-24 loss to the Patriots -- were painted in white on the player's lawn in suburban Buffalo.
McKelvin fumbled a kickoff return with under two minutes to play and the Bills leading 24-19. Three plays later, New England's Tom Brady hit Benjamin Watson for the go-ahead touchdown as the Patriots overcome an 11-point deficit in the final 2:06.
Bills linebacker Kawika Mitchell referred to a teammate's home being vandalized in a post on his Twitter page, though he did not say it was McKelvin's home. Mitchell warned fans that such behavior is disturbing.
"W/ all the safety issues n the NFL its not funny at all," Mitchell wrote. "We have Fam at our homes to protect. If u show ur face on my prop Ill make sure I do everythin to keep my Fam safe."
Mitchell warned that he would consider vandalism threatening behavior if it happened to his home.
"Its my job to protect my home as it is the job of all home owners. Dont push the limit," Mitchell wrote.
Though Bills fans are passionate about their team, Monday night's vandalism is surprising. Bills players previously have hailed the team's fans for being respectful and allowing players their privacy.
Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold declined comment by saying the team considers this a police matter.
A message left on a phone listed to McKelvin was not returned.
It's not clear if there was anyone at home at the time the vandalism occurred.
Bills players had the day off before returning to practice Wednesday to prepare to host Tampa Bay this weekend.
"To see that type of response from so-called passionate fans is taking things to the extreme," said Wilson, who is the team's union representative. "You can blog and make your opinions, but to go to a person's residence, you're taking it to a whole new level."
McKelvin, selected in the first round of the 2008 draft out of Troy, set a team record and ranked second in the NFL with 1,468 kickoff return yards last season. He also scored a touchdown.
He opened this season by taking over a starting job opposite veteran cornerback Terrence McGee.
After the game against the Patriots, McKelvin was criticized for running the ball out of the end zone rather than taking a knee. After being hit by Brandon Meriweather at the Bills 30, McKelvin attempted to gain an extra yard before being stripped of the ball by Pierre Woods.
Following the game, McKelvin said he was disappointed that he fumbled but noted he would run the ball out of the end zone again if given the same opportunity.
"Next time I get the opportunity, I am going to hold on and make a better decision," he said.
Coach Dick Jauron defended McKelvin.
"He's a dynamic runner and he was trying to win a football game, ice a football game," Jauron said, adding that McKelvin attempted to protect the ball with two hands. "It's just one of those things that happens, but I don't have any problems with Leodis. He plays the game hard."
With a nod to Terrell Owens, defensive end Aaron Schobel was upbeat a day after yet another Monday night meltdown by the Bills.
"I think Terrell said it best before and after the game," Schobel said. "He said he's been on a lot of teams and said we've got talent. We've just got to put it together. I think he's right."
Schobel did express concern that the Bills continue to struggle to seal victories. They lost 29-27 to Cleveland on a Monday night last season on Phil Dawson's 56-yard field goal with 1:39 left. Two years ago on a Monday night, Buffalo gave up 9 points in the final 20 seconds in a 25-24 loss to Dallas.
"The bottom line is when you have a chance to win the game, win the game. We didn't do that," he said. "It's a long season and we're going to be all right. We've just got to get on a roll."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press