Bills coach says he regrets 9/11 reference made during 2019 team talk

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said he regrets making a reference to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks during a team meeting in 2019, saying he has apologized to his players for his past remarks. 

McDermott, whose currently in his seventh season as the Bills’ head play caller, addressed the situation during a news conference Thursday, emphasizing that he made the remarks “to discuss the importance of communication and being on the same page with the team.”

“I regretted mentioning 9/11 in my message that day, and I immediately apologized to the team,” McDermott said at the news conference. “Not only was 9/11 a horrific event in our country’s history, but a day that I lost a good family friend.”

McDermott’s 2019 remarks resurfaced in a Go Long feature story published Thursday, where independent NFL journalist Tyler Dunne reported that McDermott made the reference in a speech during the team’s 2019 training camp period. 

In his speech, McDermott told his players at the time to come together like the terrorist who conducted the 9/11 attacks. He also asked players in the meeting about how the attacks were executed and made references on how the hijackers stayed on the same page, according to ESPN.

Seven sources confirmed McDermott’s remarks, according to Dunne.

McDermott also said at the news conference that he made the reference during the meeting as a way to show “awareness around a horrific event,” reiterating again that he lost a family friend during the tragic event, ESPN reported. 

“I brought everybody together and said this was the goal, this was the intent, and I apologize if anyone whatsoever felt a certain type of way coming out of that meeting,” McDermott said. He noted that some players have thanked him for his speech after a follow-up meeting. 

 “If anyone misinterpreted or didn’t understand my message, I apologize. I didn’t do a good enough job of communicating clearly the intent of my message,” the 49-year-old head coach added. “That was about the importance of communication and that everyone needs to be on the same page, ironically enough. So that was important to me then and still is now.”

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