BUFFALO, N.Y. – President Donald Trump’s remarks about the NFL Friday drew wide criticism across the professional sports world Saturday, including from several Buffalo Bills.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy didn't hold back his feelings Saturday morning about Trump's remarks.
It's really sad man ... our president is a asshole— Lesean McCoy (@CutonDime25) September 23, 2017
Whether it's a tweet, or kneeling on the field, or putting an arm in the air, overwhelmingly, Bills Alumni told Channel 2 on Saturday that they support the current players' rights to express their opinions.
Thurman Thomas hasn't shied away from his own thoughts on the matter.
Thomas retweeted NBA star LeBron James, who wrote, "Going to the white house was a great honor until you showed up." James’ tweet was in response to President Trump rescinding an offer for the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House.
"He's known to speak out on a number of things, which I think is good these days because the country has kind of been going in a different direction ever since we got president number 45. It's America, free speech, you're able to speak out on some things, and Twitter allows that,” Thomas said.
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
Thomas said the only thing athletes were politically divided over when he played was Desert Storm.
"It brought us together. it didn't separate us at a time like it's at right now,” he said.
Today, he says the internet puts more information at people's fingertips, and he tries to do his best to educate his four children on learning the facts so they can make their own informed opinions.
Fred Jackson, quite younger than Thomas, has played his NFL career in the age of social media, and is watching peaceful sideline protests unfold as a free agent.
"I don't think they're going in and saying, 'I don't like this flag, or I don't respect this flag.' They're saying, you know, they want to draw attention to something they believe is a major problem in the U.S. today,” Jackson said. “And they want to bring attention to that problem, and I think that's what we've got to focus on.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded Saturday morning as well, saying President Trump's comments "demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
"You know, like Roger Goodell said, I think it's a very divisive statement. You know, of course there's going to be people on both sides of it,” Jackson said.
While Trump's NFL remarks caused divided opinions nationwide, the response overwhelmingly appears to have been a uniting moment in professional sports, prompting statements from the NBA, NFL, teams, and players throughout Saturday. ESPN and the Washington Post have both reported on rumored protests during Sunday's games.
"I don't think it's cool for anyone to disrespect another person's views or opinions, when it comes to their constitutional right,” said Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith.
“I try to stay away from all that stuff,” Andre Reed said. “It’s unfortunate that athletes have to come into this and put their voice in there, and then if they don’t say the right thing, then everybody jumps on them...We’re here for a game.”
The Bills had for a team meeting Saturday night to talk about the comments Trump made at a rally in Alabama Friday night.
The Bills issued the following statement:
Several of us met tonight - players, coaches, staff, and ownership. Our goal was to provide open dialogue and communication. We listened to one another. We believe it's the best way to work through any issue we are facing - on and off the field.
President Trump's remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community, but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization.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 equality.