ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- After about a dozen Buffalo Bills players kneeled during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly called for the team to "STAND" and lock arms in unity next Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Kelly stated his desire in an Instagram post late Sunday night that included a photo of the former Bills quarterback with his right hand over his heart and his left arm holding a Bills hat above his head during the national anthem Sunday at New Era Field. Kelly said in the post that he would take a knee only to pray.
Even though I'm thankful the BILLS won today, I'm really upset and sad about what's happening. And I imagine many of you are too. I love the game of football and all that it means to the players, fans and cities across THIS country...but with all that's going on it's hard. The only time I will ever take a knee is to pray and to thank the Good Lord for what he's given me. We all have our issues. We all need to try and appreciate and understand each other and help each other and that goes for our PRESIDENT TOO. I don't have all the answers. But I do know that we need to UNITE not SEPARATE. I hope next week we can STAND , LOCK ARMS and become ONE FAMILY. 👍🙏🏈❤️
Kelly's comments came after Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who stood during the national anthem Sunday, said after the game that there must be consistent protests in order to enact change in the country.
"It is still early," Taylor said. "I can't really say what plans we have -- nothing concrete. Of course, this has to be something in order for it to change or in order for the awareness to be beneficial, it has to be something that goes on consistently. I think it is something that the league as a whole has to continue to support. I cannot say whether there are concrete plans right now, to be honest."
The Bills' demonstration Sunday included their entire sideline walking about 10 yards toward midfield before the national anthem. After some booing from the crowd, about a dozen players took a knee during the anthem, including running back LeSean McCoy, who also stretched his legs during the song. Other players and coaches, including coach Sean McDermott, locked arms or put their hands on the shoulders of players kneeling.
"The flag, the national anthem means a lot to me, to my teammates," McCoy said. "We had a long meeting Saturday night, and I was very bothered by the comments of our president, of this country. As a president, you're supposed to lead, and you're supposed to bring us together. You're supposed to lead this country. I can't stand and support something where our leader of this country is just acting like a jerk, angry and upset about NFL players protesting in a peaceful manner."
McCoy's action during the anthem drew a sharp rebuke from Kelly on Monday morning on 97 Rock in Buffalo.
"I like LeSean McCoy, don't get me wrong, but I totally, 100 percent I disagree with what he did," Kelly told the radio station. "You want to kneel? Fine. But when you go and do what he did yesterday, that sort of bummed me out. And I lost a lot of respect for him. ... You want to kneel? That's your prerogative. I would never do that. I will always stand, thank the good Lord for everything I got. But when you disrespect the way he did and just go by his everyday duty in the national anthem being sung? Uh-uh. I won't go for that."
Taylor called Trump's comments Friday, in which he criticized NFL players' kneeling during anthems, an "attack against the [NFL] shield" and a "personal attack" against NFL players. Taylor said he chose to remain standing to stay in his pregame routine but supported the decision of some of his teammates to kneel.
"In the best-case scenario, you want to be proactive," he said. "Of course, today was kind of reactive because he said something that people felt he need to go out and do things, but moving forward in order for us to get the response out of it that we are looking for, ultimately we need to be proactive. That just comes with everyone standing together. Thinking through it, like I said it is still early, and hopefully we can find a solution to it."
In addition to McCoy, players kneeling during the anthem Sunday included linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Cedric Thornton, defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Ryan Davis, wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Kaelin Clay, running backs Mike Tolbert and Taiwan Jones, and cornerbacks Shareece Wright and Leonard Johnson.
"Obviously, it was a response to our president's comments, as far as calling people that were peacefully protesting SOBs," said Alexander, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee. "For me, the backdrop being Charlottesville and calling Neo-Nazis and KKK members fine people. Then making that comparison and drawing a hard line versus NFL players doing something peaceful. That really touched me because the guys that are taking the knee are trying to bring social awareness to the injustice and inequalities in this country.
"That doesn't mean that they're not patriots or they don't love their country because we do."