BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Insisting that he was "not a public speaker" and "just a football coach," Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan took the stage on Monday night in front of a crowd of over 10,000 people in downtown Buffalo and called it a "great honor" to introduce Donald Trump at a rally for the leading Republican presidential candidate.
"There's so many things I admire about Mr. Trump, but one thing I really admire about him is, you know what, he'll say what's on his mind," Ryan said. "But so many times, you'll see people, a lot of people want to say the same thing. But there's a big difference. They don't have the courage to say it. They all think it, but they don't have the courage to say it.
"And Donald Trump certainly has the courage to say it, and that's why I respect him. And you know what? So do the people of New York. This man, he's one of the greatest businessmen, obviously, that we can ever remember. There's no question about that."
Trump then entered the arena, embraced Ryan and began praising the Bills' coach.
"What about Rex? What about Rex?" Trump said. "I think he's a very good speaker. He says he doesn't do this [public speaking]. I'll tell you what he is: He's a great, great football coach. Great football coach, and a great guy. And I want to thank Rex and [his wife] Michelle. Amazing.
"He won the championships in New York, AFC, I think twice. He always had these teams that were brutal. They were just good. Great defense. And I've been watching, and I'll tell you, you're gonna have a very, very good season this year, you watch. It's going to be good, and it's because you have a good coach, you really do. And he's also a terrific guy."
As Trump began to discuss his unsuccessful $1 billion bid to purchase the Bills in 2014, anti-Trump protests erupted on the floor of the arena, leading to about a dozen people being escorted out by police as boos drowned out Trump.
"I bid a billion," Trump said over the noise from the protesters. "And I sent a certified letter from a bank, and the bank said, 'Donald Trump will give us 24 hours to the NFL, $1 billion for the Buffalo Bills.' Which tells you, I love Buffalo, right? We had two great people, you know them, the Pegulas, and they are great people, and watch, they're gonna do an incredible job. First great move was getting Rex to coach the team."
Trump, who tweeted in 2014 that current Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula "overpaid" for the team, praised the couple on Monday night.
"You have great owners, I will say that," he said. "I'll tell you what. You talk about business deals. [Terry Pegula] was in the oil business, into fracking; he sold his fund at the exact, perfect time, and he invested [in the Bills]. It's a great thing.
"He sold like two seconds before the oil went dead. Invested in the NFL; that's a good investment. And I'll tell you, with a great, great coach, you're going to have a great team this year.
"And I'm going to be rooting for the Buffalo Bills this year. Believe me."
The Bills released a statement earlier Monday distancing themselves from Ryan's involvement in the rally.
"It is a personal decision by Rex to introduce Donald Trump at this evening’s rally," the statement read. "The Bills organization does not endorse political candidates, and so he is not representing the organization at tonight’s event."