The incident reportedly occurred during a 2019 Bills training camp. In an effort to highlight the importance of team communication, McDermott, 49, said the 9/11 hijackers were “on the same page” when they executed the terrorist attack.
NFL writer Tyler Dunne published McDermott’s comments in an article posted to his Substack page on Thursday. In his ongoing series about McDermott, Dunne has cited conversations with 25 unnamed sources within the Bills franchise. (Global News cannot independently verify Dunne’s reporting about McDermott.)
McDermott, however, did not dispute the allegations during an unscheduled news conference on Thursday. He said he apologized to the Bills team “immediately” after making the reference to the 9/11 hijackers in 2019.
“My intent in that meeting that day was to discuss the importance of communication and being on the same page with the team,” McDermott told reporters. “I regretted mentioning 9/11 in my message that day, and I immediately apologized to the team.”
“Not only was 9/11 a horrific event in our country’s history, but a day that I lost a good family friend,” he continued.
He said he would also speak to the current Bills team about the 9/11 comments.
“If anyone misinterpreted or didn’t understand my message, I apologize,” McDermott said. “I didn’t do a good enough job of communicating clearly the intent of my message. That was about the importance of communication and that everyone needs to be on the same page, ironically enough.”
Dunne’s series on McDermott has focused on the coach’s techniques and approach to football. He’s painted McDermott as a stiff, narcissistic coach unable to take accountability for the team’s losses and shortfalls.
According to Dunne, McDermott frequently delivers long, unconventional speeches to his team.
During his 9/11-inspired pep talk, Dunne said McDermott asked several players, “What tactics do you think they used to come together?” and “What do you think their biggest obstacle was?”
The 9/11 attack on New York City’s World Trade Center killed nearly 3,000 people in the deadliest terrorist attack ever to occur on American soil.
McDermott has coached the Bills since 2017 and is credited with leading the team to five playoff appearances. His contract has been extended through the 2027 season.
His speech about 9/11 is only the latest drama to plague the Bills team in recent weeks. Earlier this month, linebacker Von Miller turned himself into police after he was charged with felony domestic violence against the mother of his children, who is pregnant.
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