ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills players and general manager Brandon Beane offered their support for coach Sean McDermott on Friday, one day after the coach held a team meeting to address remarks referencing 9/11 that he made in training camp in 2019 and became public this week.
"Obviously when you're in leadership positions, you've got a lot of people looking up to you, and none of us are perfect, OK," said Beane, who is in his seventh season in Buffalo with McDermott after also working together for the Carolina Panthers.
"I think Sean acknowledged that. I went into the team meeting yesterday, I think he talked to [the media] first, went into the team meeting and I thought it was very authentic. I thought the guys all saw that, felt that, and know Sean for who he is. I think you guys that have been around here some years know who Sean's character is. I'll stand by his character every day of the week."
McDermott, who held the meeting with the team late Thursday, described the past day by saying, "Definitely gets your mind spinning, right. Just being real. And it's been disappointing. It's been hurtful.
"At the end of the day, I know who I am. At the end of the day, I know how I handle myself. As I've said, humbly, I'm not without flaws. I wake up every morning and try and do the best job that I can to win games for the fans of the Buffalo Bills and do it the right way. And that's my main goal every day."
As first reported by Go Long, McDermott told players in a 2019 speech to come together and used the terrorists on 9/11 as an example, asking players in the room questions about how the attacks were executed and referencing the hijackers getting on the same page. Multiple players who were with the team at the time confirmed the story to ESPN, while others who were there told ESPN they did not recall it.
McDermott said that he has heard from people in the franchise's office, in addition to players on the team and others with different clubs offering support.
"It was clearly to me an attack on my character, and that's important to me, very important, as much if not more, very clearly more than wins and losses," McDermott said. "Wins and losses are important, but what's more important to me from Day 1 is how you handle yourself. Doesn't mean that I've been perfect, no one's perfect. Doesn't mean that I haven't been without flaw. But to me, it's most important that for myself and my family, my kids that I handle this job the right way."
McDermott said the meeting Thursday went as well as he could have expected and that it was important to him to address the players who were not on the team in 2019, to make sure they understand the situation.
"Honestly, I don't really even know really what happened," said wide receiver Trent Sherfield, who signed with the team in free agency this year. "I just know that we had a team meeting and kind of talked about, he didn't go into detail of what he said, but at the end of the day, for me personally, I know who Sean is. Like I know whatever was said or whatever was said in detail that he, I don't believe any ounce of that was him supporting what happened on 9/11."
It was safety and captain Micah Hyde who first spoke in support to McDermott during the team meeting when the coach asked if there were any questions.
"Micah kind of broke the silence," Sherfield said. "He was just like, 'Sean, like, we know who you are,' and everybody was just kind of in agreement, and that was it."
The safety is in his seventh season in Buffalo and said he hadn't thought about the remarks between when they happened and when he was asked about them Thursday. He said he doesn't believe anyone has lost sleep over it until it came back up.
"But to me, I think it's a low blow to question Sean's character. And I don't think there's any good coming out of that," Hyde said. "I think a lot of us are, would, not to knock on you guys, but the media reporting the story, but I think in the locker room and stuff, we're all here to lift each other up. So, for guys to do that, it's kind of messed up in my eyes. You know me, I'm pro-Sean McDermott. I trust in everything that he's done around here, and what he's going to continue to do, and I'm going to back him any day of the week, twice on Sunday."
The emphasis in the locker room Friday was that it is not a distraction ahead of a big game for the Bills, as the team sits at 6-6 and 11th in the AFC with five games still to play, starting Sunday at the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Everyone is 100 percent behind Sean," Beane said. "... Everyone is truly focused; it's been a good week of practice. I know we've had a couple hiccups here that we've had to deal with off the field, but out there, you wouldn't know it. I was out there for every bit of that practice. And just to watch that and see it. The guys are going to rally. There's two things you can do. You can divide, or you can rally. And I expect this team to rally."
Beane spoke with reporters for a second time this week as the team also responded to the fallout from pass-rusher Von Miller turning himself in for an arrest warrant on allegations of assault of a pregnant woman. Miller is with the team after posting bond and is available for Sunday's game at the Chiefs.