The author, Jim Buzinski, left, in the L.A. gay flag football league in 2007, when he still had two good knees. | Brent Mullins

The news Tuesday that the Buffalo Bills are helping to launch an LGBTQ-focused flag football league in Buffalo was met with derision and a huge dose of misinformation by online trolls as more evidence of how “woke” NFL teams are.

“We’re proud to support the National Gay Flag Football League with a sponsorship to launch a league in Buffalo!” said a post on the team’s Instagram. “We are thrilled to bring inclusive flag football to Buffalo with the support of the Buffalo Bills. This exciting addition joins 27 other cities, and over 4,000 players, including straight allies, in the National Gay Flag Football League,” said NGFFL Commissioner Joel Horton.

This cool news was welcome but not that all earth-shattering, since four other NFL teams have helped to support similar ventures in their cities, efforts that go back to the New England Patriots sending Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett to toss the coin to open Gay Bowl III in Boston in 2003.

None of this stopped trolls like former ESPN anchor Sage Steele, who sees “woke” lurking in every public and private decision, from getting on social media and making fools of themselves.

A site called Rawsalerts, which calls itself “your go-to source for fast and accurate news coverage, specializing in groundbreaking events across the USA” was totally inaccurate when it posted:
“BREAKING: The Buffalo Bills have just announced that they’re helping to launch the National Gay Football League.”

No, the Bills are supporting a flag football league in Buffalo.

Still, the post led Steele — who clearly couldn’t do a quick Google search — to chime in to her 332,000 followers:

“Soooo…does this mean straight guys are allowed to play in the NGFL? Kinda like how gay guys are allowed to play in the NFL…and have been for YEARS….. The marketing strategy for this league will be fascinating. Can’t wait to watch the commercials.”

Nick Sortor, with 362,000 followers, weighed in: “The Buffalo Bills have just announced they’re helping to launch the National Gay Football League. Yeah, this is real. I thought it was a freaking parody too.”

The Calvin Coolidge Project couldn’t resist. When a commenter on their post about the new league asked if they were being serious, they said they wished they weren’t.

Things were no better on Facebook, where Sportskeeda Pro Football posted: “The Buffalo Bills have announced the creation of a gay flag football league, the ‘NATIONAL GAY FLAG FOOTBALL LEAGUE.'”

News flash: The National Gay Flag Football League was formed in 2002. I should know, since I co-founded it with Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler.

I first played in a gay men’s flag football league (maybe the first in the U.S.) in Los Angeles in 1990 and helped run it for 25 years. Also in 1990, the Gay Games added flag football as a sport and I played in three such tournaments (1990, 1994 and 2006). In the 1990s, Los Angeles and San Francisco had several city vs. city flag tournaments, where gay men were the majority (but not all) of the players.

In 2002, Cyd and I invited teams from Boston and San Francisco to L.A. to play in the first Gay Bowl. Later that year, we started the NGFFL, with six cities. There are now 250 teams in 27 cities and the Gay Bowl has a men’s and women’s tournament and is thriving. While these leagues and teams are LGBTQ-focused, they are open to all and have a robust number of straight men playing since it’s so damn fun.

What the Bills are doing in Buffalo is help start a league that would be a part of the NGFFL. These partnerships usually include some money and/or donations of equipment and uniforms. It’s pretty routine stuff, and yet the usual suspects have taken flight to screech about something they can’t be bothered to Google before declaring the end of American sports as we know it.

As for Steele wondering what the commercials would be like, she must have missed this video from the NFL, CBS Sports and the New England Patriots celebrating gay flag football: