ARLINGTON, Texas — The day before the 2018 NFL Draft, Josh Allen said he wanted to “fast-forward the next 24 hours.”
Instead, the Wyoming quarterback went through one of the longest days of his young life.
In the time between his statement and his selection by the Buffalo Bills with the seventh overall pick Thursday night, Allen found himself facing a PR nightmare after racially insensitive tweets he made as a high school student in 2012 and 2013 surfaced in the media.
“It was very stressful,” Allen said after the Bills moved up five spots to get him in a trade with Tampa Bay.
“I was so emotional about it, just because that’s not who I am as a person and I don’t want my teammates and my coaching staff thinking that’s who I am. It was six years ago. I put it on my shoulders. It happened. I was young and dumb, made a mistake, but I’ve moved on.
“I’ve learned from it, and hopefully my coaching staff and teammates will [greet] me with welcoming arms and we’re going to go from there. I’m going to earn their respect every day.”
Allen said the Bills called him before the draft began Thursday to discuss the tweets, some of which had references to rap lyrics and quotes from television shows that included offensive language.
He said the team asked for “explanations for everything and I gave it to them.
“I owned up to my mistakes and told them exactly what happened. They trusted me. They trusted my judgment. I think they did their due diligence, talking to my coaches and teammates.”
Bills general manager Brandon Beane told the Buffalo News the team had done just that and that not one of them said anything negative about Allen.
“There’s never been a problem with me and my team,” the quarterback said. “I love those guys and I guarantee you they said some really good things about me . . . I had a lot of teammates reach out to me. They said, ‘I don’t care what the tweets say. I know who you are. You’re my guy and none of that’s ever going to change.’ ”
Asked about the timing of the tweets’ release, Allen said it appeared deliberate.
“I think somebody knew what they were doing,” he said. “There were some tweets [among those that surfaced] that were deleted a few months or a year ago. So somebody knew what they were doing.
“Listen, it’s out there. It’s my fault. I can’t blame anybody else for my own mistakes. But success is the best revenge and getting in with my teammates, developing plans to win football games, earning my coaches’ respect, earning my teammates’ respect, fighting and staying hungry and trying to be the best teammate possible is what I’m going to try to do.”
Allen said he doesn’t expect any extra scrutiny or pressure as a result of the tweets because “it happened so long ago.”
“I’m going to be myself,” he said. “I’m going to make sure they know who I really am. There were no malintentions with those tweets, but what’s said is said. There’s no going back and changing it. It happened. I’ve had a lot of experience in the past three years, going to JUCO, going to a Division I school.
“I am who I am today, and I’m not that guy six years ago when I was 15 years old,” he said. “I’ve got to man up and take it on the chin. What happened was not acceptable and it’s never going to happen again. I’ve learned.”