A day after meeting with his players, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott told reporters Friday that their “support was clear” after he apologized for referencing the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks during training camp four years ago.
The comments — in which McDermott is said to have used the hijackers as an example of individuals who were able to work together and successfully carry out a plan — were revealed for the first time Thursday by Go Long.
Later on Thursday, McDermott told reporters that his intention at the time was “to discuss the importance of communication and being on the same page with the team,” but he “regretted mentioning 9/11 in my message that day and I immediately apologized to the team.”
McDermott also said Thursday that he intended to address his current players about the situation later in the day. On Friday morning, he was asked how that meeting went.
“I thought it went as good as one could expect, as I could expect,” he said. “It was important for me to address the players that are new to us since 2019 and may not have been around that day, so that they understood that situation and how it unfolded. And that based on who I am and what they’ve seen, my hope in how I try to do things and how I handled that situation. So it went well. Their support was clear. And much appreciated.”
The article that featured McDermott’s 9/11 comments was included in a series on Go Long titled “The McDermott Problem,” by writer Tyler Dunne, who makes no secret of the point he’s trying to get across.
“If the goal is to win a Super Bowl,” Dunne writes early in the first of the three lengthy articles, “the Bills have one option: Fire the head coach before [it’s] too late.”
Dunne spoke with 25 former coaches, players and other Bills personnel from the McDermott era for the series. Most of the sources were granted anonymity and quite a few negative opinions were shared of McDermott, who has compiled a 72-46 record but has yet to lead the Bills to a Super Bowl appearance even with superstar Josh Allen at quarterback.
McDermott spent nearly half of his 16-minute session with reporters Friday discussing the articles, calling them “hurtful” but saying that the support he’s received since they were published has been “affirming.”
“You know, it was clearly, to me, an attack on my character, and that’s important to me, very important, as much if not more, very clearly more, than wins and losses,” McDermott said. “Wins and losses are important, but what’s more important to me from Day 1 is how you handle yourself. And, again, doesn’t mean that I’ve been perfect, no one’s perfect. Doesn’t mean I’ve been without flaw. But to me it’s most important that for myself and my family and my kids, that I handle this job the right way.”
He added: “In any of our lives if this came up for any of us, something like this, it definitely gets your mind spinning, right? Just being real, it’s been disappointing. It’s been hurtful, right? At the end of the day, I know who I am. At the end of the day, I know how I handle myself. As I’ve said, humbly, I’m not without flaws, right? I wake up every morning trying to do the best job that I can to win games for the fans of the Buffalo Bills and do it the right way. And that’s my main goal every day.”