Buffalo Bills linebacker and team captain Lorenzo Alexander encouraged his teammates Friday to keep an open mind about quarterback Josh Allen but acknowledged that the No. 7 overall pick might have to answer to racially insensitive tweets that surfaced this week.
"What I'm gonna do is extend some grace and wait to get to know the kid and see how he develops," Alexander told the Bills' official radio program. "And that's how you got to approach it.
"Now, everyone might not have that same approach. I would encourage every teammate in our locker room to do that, but he's gonna have to at some point, whether he does it in front of the whole team or one-off. Somebody's gonna ask him, 'Why did you say that?' or 'Why were you quoting those words?'
"He's gonna have to have a good answer. I've listened to a couple of interviews, and I think it's gonna come from the heart and he'll be fine. But he's gonna maybe have to work a little bit harder to get respect from certain people in the locker room, but I don't think it's an issue, because that's who he was and not who he is."
Tweets that Allen made while in high school in 2012 and 2013 were published Wednesday by Yahoo! Sports. The tweets, which have been deleted, contained racial slurs and other offensive language.
After the Bills traded up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select Allen in the first round Thursday, the former Wyoming quarterback said the tweets did not represent who he is today. Allen told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that some of the tweets made reference to rap lyrics and television, including a saying that was part of an episode from the sitcom "Modern Family."
Alexander offered advice to Allen to immediately address the tweets in front of the team.
"Because you don't want it lingering," he said. "You're always going to have guys like, 'Eh,' trying to watch it extra close, trying to confirm it, vs. you addressing it. Then it's kind of over."
Allen reacted to Alexander's suggestion when being introduced later Friday.
"It's something that I've considered," Allen said. "It's something when I get to meet the guys, I get a sense of how they feel and what they say to me. I definitely would consider doing that. It's something that I wouldn't be afraid or ashamed of doing. But I wouldn't know until I got to meet everybody and got a feel for how they feel about it."
Alexander noted Friday that Allen was raised in Firebaugh, California, a city with about a 1 percent African-American population.
"I'm not gonna be ignorant enough to assume that he understands the [N-]word as I understand it and a lot of people understand it," Alexander said. "Because growing up in a culture, especially around a guy like Eminem, there are certain aspects of our culture that think it's OK to say it, whether you're white or black. I've actually witnessed some black kids allow their white friends to use the word and not think twice about it.
"He grew up -- and I'm not making excuses for him, I'm just giving the reality of the matter -- growing up in the middle of Fresno, not a lot of people were in his town that he grew up in. Small-time, I think it's 1 percent blacks that live in that neighborhood. So you're just not exposed to the same things."
Alexander said he received a positive opinion of Allen from Bills defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, who is African-American and played with Allen at Wyoming.
General manager Brandon Beane said the Bills, including owners Terry and Kim Pegula, were not aware of Allen's tweets until this week and circled back with him Thursday to discuss the matter. They also spoke with Allen's coach and a teammate.
"Obviously the Bills organization vetted him," Alexander said Friday. "So when something like this comes out, [you have to talk to] other teammates or coaches. He's played with some African-Americans on his teams, so I know they would say something at some point -- or especially when something like this comes up, they're gonna tweet, 'Yeah, this is him.'
"You haven't heard anything like that. He's grown, matured, owned it. He's very contrite and apologetic for what he said and did, because he's learned the magnitude of that word."