NOXEN — While most football fans are glued to their televisions every Sunday to watch the NFL, one local man got way closer to the action than most ever will.
And he owes it all to his singing talent.
R.J. Scouton, 35, of Noxen, made the four-hour drive from Wyoming County to New Era Field, home of the Buffalo Bills, to perform the national anthem on Sunday afternoon.
“It was a surreal experience,” said Scouton, a country musician. “Up to now, this has to be my career highlight so far. Hopefully, one of many more.”
But how did the Noxen musician end up in front of 80,000 people on Sunday?
“I was performing at a private party for Joe Amato,” Scouton recalled. “His good friend, Terry Pegula, the Bills and Sabres billionaire owner, was there and he enjoyed my music.”
Scouton told his manager about his experience at the party. She said he should try to see if he could sing the anthem at a Bills game.
“I’ve performed the national anthem at high school football games and Little League games but I never had a recording of it,” he said. “I sang at a Scranton /Wilkes-Barre RailRiders playoff game and they were able to send me a copy of my rendition.”
Scouton then reached out to Amato who got in touch with Pegula, a Carbondale native, to make Scouton’s dream a reality.
“I heard back and they said I could sing at the Bills game against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 7,” he said. “I’m still in shock over everything.”
He continued: “The Bills are such a top-notch organization. I’m just so grateful.”
Sunday morning was kind of hectic.
While Scouton got on the field for rehearsal, he noticed the NFL players look even bigger in person than on television.
“My first rehearsal did not go well, if I’m being honest,” he said. “Luckily, I got the issue resolved with the monitor in my ear.”
After rehearsing, Scouton and his family relaxed for about an hour before it was showtime.
“When it was my time to head down to the field to sing the anthem, I told myself that God put me here on Earth for a reason, so time to go do it.
“I knew I crushed it when I heard the crowd go nuts when I hit the part of the anthem, ‘and the rockets’ red glare,’” he said.
Scouton has since seen some pretty encouraging comments and buzz on social media.
“I’ll see what’s next,” the artist said. “My goal is to get signed as a country music artist and hopefully become the opening act for a national tour.”
Fans can visit his website, rjscoutonmusic.com, or follow Scouton on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. His music, including new single “Back in the Old Days,” can be heard on Spotify, iTunes and Google Play.
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes