Buffalo Bills Coach Apologizes After Report Reveals He Cited 9/11 Attacks in Speech About Good Teamwork

Sean McDermott confirmed he had referenced the terrorist attack while trying to motivate his team in 2019.

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Sean McDermott is catching heat over what some have called his “9/11 speech.”

The Buffalo Bills coach addressed the backlash while speaking to reporters Thursday night, just hours after Going Long published an article about his coaching style. The piece, written by independent NFL journalist Tyler Dunne, referenced a 2019 training camp speech in which McDermott cited the 9/11 attacks as an example of effective teamwork.

“Sources on-hand say, he used a strange model: the terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001,” Dunne wrote in the three-part article. “He cited the hijackers as a group of people who were all able to get on the same page to orchestrate attacks to perfection.”

The coach, who joined the Bills in 2017, clarified his comments in an unscheduled press conference Thursday, saying he regretted his words and apologized to his team immediately after the speech.

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“My intent in the meeting that day was to discuss the importance of communication and being on the same page with the team,” he told the media. “I regretted mentioning 9/11 in my message that day and I immediately apologized to the team. Not only was 9/11 a horrific event in our country’s history, but a day that I lost a good family friend. … It was mentioning 9/11 in the context of the team meeting. The goal of the team meeting was about the importance of communication and being on the same page as a team.”

McDermott added, “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. 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. 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.”

McDermott said he addressed the speech later that day at training camp, after one of the players expressed concern over the 9/11 reference.

“One player didn’t seem—that I didn’t make my point clear enough,” he continued. “So right then and there I said we’re getting together as a team and I’m going to address this with everyone."

McDermott told reporters he planned on discussing the matter after the press conference. 

The coach’s controversial comments surfaced just days after Bills linebacker Von Miller was arrested for an alleged domestic violence incident. Miller was charged with third-degree felony assault against his pregnant partner. He surrendered to police last week and was released on a $5,000 bond.

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