Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott is on the proverbial hot seat right now, and it’s got nothing to do with the fact that his team is underperforming at the moment.
The 6-6 Bills travel to face the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, and a loss would almost assuredly knock the Bills out of the playoff hunt — an ignominious result for a team that many had pegged as a playoff lock and Super Bowl contender prior to the season.
But instead of preparing for that monumental game with clear eyes and 100 percent focus, the team has been rocked by a 4-year-old scandal that has been dredged up anew.
McDermott is said to have “[asked] players in the room questions about how the attacks were executed and [referenced] the hijackers getting on the same page.”
Several players confirmed this wild anecdote, while others told ESPN they did not recall it.
The bizarre comments were brought up again on Thursday in a long-form piece on the Bills by Go Long, which largely tried to examine why the team is underachieving.
“[McDermott] cited the hijackers as a group of people who were all able to get on the same page to orchestrate attacks to perfection,” Go Long’s Tyler Dunne wrote of the 2019 incident.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 7, 2023
McDermott addressed the resurfaced scandal on Thursday.
“My intent in the meeting that day was to discuss the importance of communication and being on the same page with the team,” the suddenly embattled coach 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.”
Sean McDermott just addressed the 9/11 meeting referenced by @TyDunne‘s article published today. He said he plans on addressing this with the team later today once they get out of meetings. Here’s the first few minutes of his comments from moments ago @WKBW pic.twitter.com/lKBdGVd8GV
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 7, 2023
McDermott added that he would address his team about the ill-conceived analogy once again.
“It is important to me that … we’re all on the same page and they — even guys that weren’t here — understand how I feel about the 9/11 event,” he said. “I regretted and apologized for … not doing a good job of clearly communicating my point. And I’m going to do the same with the team today.”
Unsurprisingly, reaction on social media was swift and charged when this incident was thrust back into the spotlight.
For many fans, the fact that McDermott — the only NFL head coach whose team actually plays in New York state (the New York Giants and New York Jets both play in New Jersey) — casually brought up 9/11 as an example of good teamwork is an unfathomable blunder.
McDermott, who famously ended the Bills’ 18-year playoff drought in his first year with the team in 2017, is currently signed through 2027, according to ESPN.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.