For the first time ever, Sean McDermott is playing golf at the American Century Championship this week. It’s an annual event involving celebrities, coaches and athletes, both active and retired.
McDermott spoke with a member of one of our sister stations, WROC Sports Director Thad Brown, in advance of the event. First question: does the Bills head coach have a golf game that’s ready for national TV?
“I guess we don’t have any choice (but to find out), do we?” he said with a smile. “I just try to keep it short and straight and play stress free golf.”
Stress free is rarely the situation for any NFL head coach, even months away from the regular season. That was especially true this spring when the Bills became one of the centerpieces in the discussion of sports teams getting and needing Covid vaccinations.
Right after minicamp, Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley ranted on Twitter about his displeasure for the NFL’s Covid policy that will cover training camp and the preseason. He started with “This is crazy” and ended with a lengthy notes app post that he titled “public service announcement”.
McDermott said on Wednesday he has spoken with Beasley following the social media outburst. It’s a topic he has discussed with the team in general.
“Certainly respect Cole’s opinion. I think that’s where we are as a world. Got a lot of different people having a lot of different opinions. The best thing we can do is respect each other’s positions,” McDermott said.
The Bills have often raved about the unity in the locker room. However, the issue regarding player vaccinations going forward may not be solely be contained within the locker room. It may continue to be players like Beasley having to or deciding to address the situation with the outside world, likely via social media.
McDermott is not worried about it becoming a problem for the Bills.
“I trust the players in a our locker room that they’re going to make good decisions and we’re gonna be where we need to be when the season rolls around,” McDermott said.
The Bills head coach says he thinks his players have moved forward when it comes to vaccinations since the end of minicamp, but admitted he had a better feel for the situation when everyone was together.
“I just hope we continue to move forward in that direction just for the greater good of society and the greater good of our team,” McDermott said. “But again, have to respect everyone’s position either to get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated.”
The greater good of McDermott’s team might actually be on the line this weekend when he tees it up. McDermott is grouped with fellow NFL head coaches Mike Vrabel (Titans) and Matt Nagy (Bears). McDermott’s Bills will be across the same field from Vrabel in a little more than three months.
Vrabel is a veteran of the celebrity golf event and McDermott said with a Cheshire cat grin that he has to be careful about Vrabel stealing some information this week. McDermott has his own ‘covert op’ planned.
“I’ll have my tape recorder going the whole time. He won’t know. It’ll just be in my golf bag,” McDermott said. “I’ll just ask him some general questions and make sure I’m getting that on record. (Things) that I can use when we play again.”
McDermott is excited about his week at the American Century Championship. It’ll likely be the end of his offseason vacation. He’s looking forward to rubbing elbows with others are at the top of their craft. McDermott also was reunited with former Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams. They had dinner on Tuesday night and played a practice round on Wednesday.
Combine all that with the beauty of Lake Tahoe and it’s unlikely McDermott will care much how well he plays golf.