BUFFALO, N.Y (WIVB) — As the national anthem was played prior to kickoff between the Bill and Broncos, members of both teams locked arms and stood, while others took a knee in a show of solidarity following comments from President Donald Trump he’d like to see owners “fire” players who protest.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy took a knee before resuming stretching throughout the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly was on the other side of the line alongside staff, with one hand raised in the air waving his hat.
Kelly, who supported Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, said he’d wish the president would stop focusing on the NFL and focus on problems the country faces throughout the world.
He added, now is the time to come together and unite but didn’t mince words when discussing the protests.
“The players, you made your point, I get it. I understand. I’m a former player – black or white – I get it. I talked to Marcell Dareus after the game. I talked to Thurman Thomas last night in detail. We get it. We understand,” Kelly said.
“You made your point. I agree, but now it’s time to not disrespect to stand what our country stands for. I do believe we need to lock arms, stand and realize what – and how blessed we are to be national football league players and to live in the United States of America. If you don’t think our country is good enough, then leave. Go somewhere else.”
After the Bills 26-16 win over the Broncos, several players spoke out regarding the president’s tweets including LeSean McCoy who told reporters, “I was very bothered by the comments of our president of this country. As the president you’re supposed to bring us together. I can’t stand or support something when our leader of this country is acting like a jerk.”
During an appearance on 97 Rock Monday morning, Kelly had pointed comments for the running back.
“I like LeSean McCoy, I like him, but I totally disagree 100 percent with what he did,’ Kelly said. “You want to kneel — but when you go and do what he did yesterday that bummed me out and I lost a lot of respect for him. You know what, I’m a Buffalo Bill from start to finish but when people start doing that, that’s where I draw the line.
“You want to kneel, that’s your prerogative. You do it, I will never do it. I will always stand and thank the good Lord for what I’ve got. But when you disrespect it the way he did and then just go about his duty when the national anthem is being sung, I don’t go for that. I’m just so bummed out right now.
“When I left the stadium, there was a guy selling a LeSean McCoy jersey for $5 bucks and nobody was buying it. And I was like, come on Shady, that’s not right. You just don’t do that. That’s my personal opinion.”
Dareus was also among the players who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem. According to Kelly, Dareus told the Hall of Famer he never believed he’d take a knee.
“My father worked in the military, and I talked to Marcell in detail last night. He said he never thought he’d be getting on one knee during the national anthem. He had a lot of his relatives, family members who worked in the military. I don’t know Marcell’s background but he felt strongly that what the president did was very disrespectful, and I agree. But one thing we need to do is stand for our country – black and white.”
“There are so many people who put their lives on the line right now for what we have in the United States. Ok, Trump did his thing, we get it. But, now let’s all unite and come together as the NFL so we don’t have people walking out of stadiums.”
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor called Trump’s comments an attack on players but added players needed to remain proactive in an effort to work toward a solution.
On his Instagram post Kelly wrote, “I hope next week next week we can STAND, LOCK ARMS and become ONE FAMILY.”
He echoed similar sentiments on the radio.
“I sure hope when I turn the TV on next week, the people, the players that kneeled and sat during the national anthem will realize ‘OK, we made our point we totally disagree’ – and I’m with them – with what Donald Trump has done said at times. The thing is now we need to come together.”
On Tuesday, Kelly issued a statement on his comments. Read it below:
“I want to offer some clarification in regards to my recent comments. First and foremost, like so many, I love the United States and the great game of football. Yesterday we saw how passionate players are in regards to the peaceful protests that occurred in many NFL stadiums, including New Era Field where I was in attendance. I am so thankful that we live in a country where we are able to express ourselves freely. In that regard, I want to be clear that I agree with the reason some NFL players have chosen to peacefully protest and appreciate players, coaches and organizations being unified.
I would hope that while we all, myself included, may not agree with using the National Anthem as the appropriate forum for such display, we should continue to strive to work through these issues with great respect for each other. God Bless.”