Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott spoke to the media Thursday and addressed a report that said in 2021, he wanted the team to work like the terrorists did on the September 11, 2001, attack in New York. He confirmed the allegation in his press conference and regrets using the tragic event as a comparison, according to Katherine Fitzgerald of The Buffalo News.
“My intent in the meeting that day was to discuss the importance of communication,” McDermott said. “I regretted mentioned 9/11 in my message that day, and I immediately apologized to the team.”
Sean McDermott addressing media now: "My intent in the meeting that day was to discuss the importance of communication. … I regretted mentioned 9/11 in my message that day, and I immediately apologized to the team."
— katherine fitzgerald (@kfitz134) December 7, 2023
This is in reference to a report made by Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com, a former writer of The Buffalo News, where he had sources say that in 2021, McDermott said the team “needed to come together” like the aforementioned terrorists. He asked players in this specific meeting how they think the assailants made their plan like “What tactics do you think they used to come together?” and other questions.
“At St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y., McDermott’s morning address began innocently enough,” Dunne writes. “He told the entire team they needed to come together. But then, sources on hand say, he used a strange model: the terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. He cited the hijackers as a group of people who were all able to get on the same page to orchestrate attacks to perfection. One by one, McDermott started asking specific players in the room questions. ‘What tactics do you think they used to come together?’ A young player tried to methodically answer. ‘What do you think their biggest obstacle was?’ A veteran answered, ‘TSA,’ which mercifully lightened the mood.”
Not the only confusing speech from Sean McDermott
In the three-part series, Dunne quotes players who were anonymous to protect their identity and mentioned how “awkward” Sean McDermott was. The player also said how the allegory used completely whiffed in what the Bills head coach was trying to accomplish.
“I don’t know why he’s that awkward but his social skills are lacking,” the anonymous player told Dunne. “Maybe he’s just wound-up thinking about ball. You’ve got to talk to the team every day. That’s one where maybe he heard it on a podcast. Next episode! That’s not the one to lead with. He was trying to bring the team together. It was a horrible, horrible reference. He missed the mark.”
Turns out, it wasn't the only questionable comparison McDermott made when trying to compare football to a tragedy. He also referenced a time when a woman drove off Niagara Falls and ended up dying according to Dunne. Players were waiting for a lesson in this story, and apparently, there wasn't any.
“In December 2021, locals will recall the news of a woman deliberately driving into the waterway that spills into the falls,” Dunne wrote. “She drifted down the Niagara River before her vehicle was lodged against a rock about 50 yards from the brink. McDermott studied up and pieced together a speech. The coach explained how members from the Coast Guard did everything they could to save the woman. He built up the drama. Players held on tight for an inspiring apex, and . . . nothing. He said the woman died. End of story. The complete absence of a point had some players biting their tongues, trying their hardest not to laugh.”
There's no doubt how bad of a look this is for McDermott which piles on to the disappointment of the Bills this season. The once AFC powerhouse is 6-6 with a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs set for this Sunday. Whether the reports effect the longevity of McDermott's job as head coach for Buffalo is up in the air.