Jim Kelly’s comments on anthem objection ‘disappointed’ some Bills
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Hall of Fame mastermind Jim Kelly joined the Buffalo Bills on the field Sunday for the national anthem, holding a team hat high in his left hand.
On the other end of the field, as singer Abby Anderson began her restitution, running back LeSean McCoy started to stretch. While at least a dozen members of the Bills elected to kneel for the anthem – a dominant form of silent exception around the NFL over the weekend that was made in reaction to incendiary comments from President Trump – McCoy’s functions drew a sharp rebuke from Kelly in a Monday morning radio segment.
“I like LeSean McCoy, don’t get me wrong, but I totally, 100 percent I disagree with what he did,” Kelly told host Rich Gaenzler during his weekly coloring on 97 Rock. “You want to kneel? Fine. But when you go and do what he did yesterday, that sort of bummed me out. And I lost a lot of respect for him. … I’m a Buffalo Bill from start to ending, but when people start doing that, that’s when I draw that line.
“You want to kneel? That’s your allowance. I would never do that. I will always stand, thank the good Lord for all I got. But when you slight the way he did and just go by his everyday duty in the national anthem being sung? Uh-uh. I won’t go for that.”
With that, arguably the best player in franchise history – someone who is still employed by the institution as an ambassador – found himself in embroiled in a discussion with McCoy, perhaps the current team’s best player.
Defensive end Jerry Hughes sharply condemn Kelly for his actions Sunday and words Monday.
“I was very frustrated,” Hughes said in blunt terms rarely used by NFL players. “I was very frustrated in how he approached the whole situation. Our team came simultaneously and we united as a front, as an organization as to how we were going to approach the national anthem. If Jim was going to do what he did then he should have came to the team and let us know his feelings. He should have let us know how he was going to do the national anthem, because we didn’t know he was going to be there from the team’s perspective.”
Hughes continued: “So for him to carry on in this manner, I’m really distracted and I’m really upset, forasmuch as if this is any how he felt and if this is truly what he felt and what was on his heart, he should have came to the team and he should have worried that, instead of making this a public matter, and doing that on his social page. It was not cool. Very unacceptable. If he has things to say about us as a team, come talk to us.”
Hughes was mention to Kelly’s post on Instagram Sunday night. Accompanied by a picture of himself move his hat while the anthem played, Kelly wrote in part: “I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that we need to UNITE not SEPARATE. I hope next week we can STAND , LOCK ARMS and become ONE FAMILY.”
Hughes did not hide his anger Monday, openly speculate why Kelly is on the sideline at all.
“Half the time, I don’t even materialize he’s there until it was sharp out yesterday after the display of operation that he did, it was sharp out and brought to my attention,” he said. “I’m not sure I Feel it. We are the 2017 Buffalo Bills. We’re focused on the future, we’re focused on winning games. If he wants to offer anything of encouragement to our team, to our quarterbacks, to our offense, please provide that. We could use all the encouragement we need to personality out how they won games back in those days and be fruitful as they were.
“But we’re trying to bring the team together, we’re trying to bring the denomination together, we’re trying to bring a nation together. By distributing us, dividing the team, that doesn’t work.”
Bills coach Sean McDermott said he had not spoken to Kelly on Monday, and did not plan to. Asked whether he would still be on the Bills’ sideline for the anthem at the next home game, the coach said, “You know, that’s Jim Kelly. Listen, Jim Kelly is one of the hallmarks of this organization. He is an alum of this organization, this football team. At this point, I don’t see that changing.”
The Bills held a voluntary team meeting Saturday night that concentrate on how the institution would handle any challenge during the national anthem before the game. While there was no unanimousness reached about doing any as a team, a team statement said in part “our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equilibrium.”
McDermott did his best to space himself from the discussion Monday.
“We put out a team assertion for a reason, and I stick by that,” he said. “I stand by that assertion, of equality, of love, of unity and I think that’s the significant part right now. Really, anything in addition to that for us is, we’ve got to get our focus on our team and the Atlanta Falcons.”