Bills coach Sean McDermott respects lineman's decision to raise fist

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott addressed his team Sunday about how he respects the decision by reserve offensive lineman Cameron Jefferson to raise his fist during the national anthem before the preseason game Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"What I want all of our players to understand is we are going to support them, No. 1," McDermott said. "Everyone obviously has their view on things. I think the key word here is respect. We respect Cam's opinion, we respect and acknowledge what's going on. ... Respect the situation, respect the communication end of things moving forward, and then respect the process of what's going on in this country and in this world."

Jefferson, 25, signed with the Bills in April. He previously spent time with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos after entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2015.

Jefferson was inspired to raise his fist after looking across the field at Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins doing the same.

"I feel like it's my duty as an athlete with my platform to do anything I can to help people in need against police brutality in the black and brown communities," Jefferson told NewYorkUpstate.com. "I was already thinking about it but something in my gut and my spirit said, 'Go ahead, Cam. You can do it.'"

McDermott initiated a conversation with Jefferson on Saturday about his protest.

"It's important that we can communicate, and a big part of communication is listening, and I did a lot of listening yesterday. That was very healthy," McDermott said of the meeting. "You always want to know with your players what's going on in their lives. I want to know how we share in our morning meetings and the stories behind the individuals on this football team. And as we continue to build this football team, you've heard me say before that we're building this thing around the love for one another. This to me is a great example of that."

McDermott, in his first season as an NFL head coach, said Sunday that he will support any player who makes a stand for an "ethical" cause.