Sean McDermott 9/11 comments: Bills head coach regrets ‘horrible reference’ from 2021 team meeting

The Bills look like a team that needs motivation. Despite a plethora of star power on the team, Buffalo has largely underwhelmed in 2023, sporting a record for 6-6 and currently sitting outside the playoff picture. 

If fans are expecting that push to come from head coach Sean McDermott, they may want to think again. 

Go Long’s Tyler Dunne released a three-part series that gives details on McDermott’s time in Buffalo and the struggles that he has encountered as the head coach. One of the consistent themes throughout is McDermott’s apparent lack of ability to motivate his players, as multiple incidents are brought up describing questionable and confusing references in his speeches. 

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What did Sean McDermott say about 9/11? 

In Part II of the thread on Substack, Dunne describes a 2021 training camp meeting where McDermott allegedly used 9/11 as an example of teams coming together for a plan. 

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“At St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y., McDermott’s morning address began innocently enough,” Dunne wrote. “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.”

McDermott addressed the comments he made on Thursday afternoon, stating that he already apologized to the team immediately after the meeting. 

McDermott explains 9/11 comments

“My intent in the meeting that day was to discuss the importance of communication and being on the same page with the team,” McDermott said. “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.”

An unnamed player on the team was asked by Dunne about their thoughts on the speech. The player gave a candid answer, calling the reference “horrible” while referring to McDermott as “awkward.”

“I don’t know why he’s that awkward but his social skills are lacking,” the unnamed 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.”

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The 9/11 comments weren’t the only time that McDermott made a head-scratching reference. The Bills head coach also tried to rally the team by telling the story of a woman falling into Niagara Falls.

“In December 2021, locals will recall the news of a woman deliberately driving into the waterway that spills into the falls,” Dunne said. “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.”

The seat on McDermott is already hot as is. Buffalo fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey earlier in the year, but the Bills still haven’t put it together in the post-Dorsey era, leaving the blame to be put on the head coach.

The fact that these comments have become public knowledge may not help his case either. 

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