On August 17, Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox’s world flipped upside down. His younger brother, Luke – a linebacker for Florida International University – was found unresponsive and in medical distress in his dorm room. CPR was administered on-site and in hospital, but it wasn’t enough to save the life of the 22-year-old athlete.
“There’s no words to describe these last few weeks,” Knox wrote in an Instagram post featuring a childhood photo of himself with Luke. “All I know is that I am beyond grateful for the outpouring of love and support for my family. Luke is not lost, because we know exactly where he is. God’s got him, and I know I’ll be seeing him again one day. Luke’s legacy will continue to live on through all the lives he’s impacted in incredible ways. This isn’t a goodbye, it’s just a see you later. I love you, Luke.”
He concluded his post with a passage from the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians.
Photo Credit: Kaylee Woodward/Buffalo Bills
Playing Through Loss
Dawson took some time away from Bills’ training camp and preseason. As Buffalo made its final offseason preparations, he returned for his first practice and spoke with the media:
“Just getting back up here, getting in the routine, seeing all my teammates, seeing my coaches, definitely from a distraction standpoint it’s great, too,” Knox told reporters in advance of opening night. “But it’s also very therapeutic just doing what I love with the guys that I love. I know that my brother would want it that way, too. He wants me to give everything I got. I know he is gonna be watching somehow, someway, so yeah, it’s definitely been great being back up here, getting back with all the guys.”
Knox suited up for the Bills’ season opener. He helped the Bills to a commanding 31-10 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. For the third-year National Football League pro, the season kick-off served as a reminder of his lifelong buddy.
“Obviously it’s been an emotional roller coaster, but I think my brother has been my number one supporter,” the 6-foot-4, 255-pound tight end said. “He couldn’t be more happy anytime I was having success… I know he wanted me to give it my all in everything I did. So, there’s a little extra motivation for me there this year because I know he’ll be able to be watching. But I know that he’s always been my biggest supporter and he wants me to go out and be the best player and be the best man I possibly can be.”
‘Photo courtesy of *Dawson Knox* via Instagram’
Playing for Legacy
Following the news of Luke’s death, Bills fans began donating to Dawson’s charity, P.U.N.T. – a pediatric cancer collaborative – in Luke’s honour. Prior to kickoff, donations had soared over $225K.
“It’s really mind-blowing, just the size, the amount of support I’ve had,” Knox said of the Bills fans. “The sheer number of texts and messages, even just the dollar amount of donations that have been made in my brother’s name to the P.U.N.T. Foundation. It’s more than I could have expected, but at the same time it’s weirdly not surprising because this is such an incredible city with such an incredible fanbase and people.”
Looking to the Future
This year, Knox and the Bills came to an agreement on a four-year, $54 million contract. He will wear Buffalo’s red, white and blue through the 2026-27 NFL season. His contract makes him the sixth-highest paid tight end across the league ($13.4 million annually). Only Stefon Diggs contract is higher in terms of Bills receiver salaries from 2023 onward.
The 2019 third round pick had himself a noteworthy 2021 campaign, catching 49 passes for 587 yards and nine touchdowns. He essentially doubled his production from his rookie and freshman seasons combined.
“I’ve always just took the stance that I want to do whatever I can to help the team win games,” Knox said. “But I’d also love to continue contributing in the passing game as well, just because I know the weapon that I can be. And I kind of want to use last year as a foundation going forward.”
Putting his brother’s tragic death behind him, Knox looks to have a breakout year. His No. 1 fan now owns the very best seat in the house.