Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott meets with reporters after...

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott meets with reporters after the team's NFL football game against the New York Jets in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. The Bills won 32-6. Credit: AP/Jeffrey T. Barnes

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said Friday he recognizes his mistakes while also noting he still has the support of the team in light of a questionable comparison he made four years ago in crediting the 9/11 hijackers for their coordination.

“It was important for me to address the players that are new to us since 2019 and may not have been around that day,” said McDermott, who met with players Thursday to discuss the comments. ”So they understood that situation and how it unfolded, and that, based on who I am and what they’ve seen, my hope and how I try and do things and how I handled that situation. So it went well. Their support was clear and much appreciated.”

The 49-year-old McDermott, in his seventh season coaching the Bills, said he owes it to his players to focus on beating the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. But he also wanted to address the situation.

“I think in any of our lives if this came up for any of us, something like this, it definitely gets your mind spinning,” McDermott said. “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."

McDermott had mentioned the hijackers during a team meeting in 2019 while stressing the importance of communication. Upon realizing how his message was being interpreted, McDermott said he called a second team meeting an hour later that day to apologize to his players.

He revisited those remarks Thursday after an article posted on the Substack page of NFL writer Tyler Dunne, citing numerous unnamed sources, revealed what McDermott had said at the meeting.

McDermott did not dispute what was reported about his comments.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Safety Micah Hyde said McDermott’s comments to the team on Thursday were heartfelt and well-received.

“We’re all sitting there and supporting Sean and I don’t think that anybody in there was thinking otherwise,” Hyde said.

Hyde said he and other Bills players accepted McDermott’s apology in 2019 and that the resurfaced comments would not be a distraction for the team.

“We all understood where he was coming from, and what he meant after the fact,” Hyde said. “He explained that to us, so I didn’t even think about that whole situation until yesterday, until I was asked about it.”

General manager Brandon Beane said McDermott’s team address Thursday “was very authentic.”

“He was very vulnerable,” Beane said. “And I know the guys, I think without speaking to every single player, I think it resonated. And like this team always does, the guys are going to rally around him.”

Beane backed McDermott’s leadership style, saying, “I’ll stand by his character every day of the week.”

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