After Cam Jefferson raised his fist during the national anthem of the Bills preseason game, head coach Sean McDermott sat down him and “did a lot of listening.”
“We spoke about it yesterday and then we talked about it as a team today. What I want all of our players to understand is that we are going to support them, number one. Everyone obviously has their view on things and I think the key word here is respect. We respect Cam’s opinion. We respect and acknowledge what’s going on,” said McDermott.
As a young player new to the Bills roster, Jefferson knew he would receive some backlash for his actions. He was happy to know that his new head coach took the time to get to know why.
“It’s a good feeling, especially [as] a guy they signed in April. I’m not a starter, I’m not a top draft pick, but for him to really hear me out and listen to me and sit down with me, man to man [and] eye to eye, it was a great feeling to have that from a head coach,” said Jefferson
“It’s important that we can communicate and a big part of communication is listening and I did a lot of listening yesterday. That was very healthy. I think that, again, the key word in all of this is respect. Respect this situation, respect the communication end of things moving forward, and then respect the process of what’s going on in this country and this world,” added McDermott.
McDermott addressed the team as a whole about the topic before practice on Sunday, never saying Jefferson’s name.
“He was very open, very supportive. He didn’t single me out or anything. He just said someone on this team made a stand and made a quiet protest and he just keep it at that and we just moved on from it,” added the 2nd year offensive lineman.
“We’re building this thing around the love for one another. This, to me, is a great example of that. I want to know what’s going on in our players’ lives and let them know that we support them and we care about them as people off the field and then as players on the field,” said McDermott.
Wanting to know what’s going on includes any protests in the future. McDermott wants to know before they happen.
“We have guys that come from various backgrounds, from wealthy to poor, black, white, biracial, blended families. So a locker room is very unique because now you’re placed in situations where you’re dealing with people that you normally wouldn’t associate with otherwise,” said veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. “We’re going to have different opinions but the more you know people, the better relationships you have, the easier it is to accept somebody’s different opinion about going a way about doing some certain things.”
Bills Center Eric Wood echoed Alexanders comments saying that he supports guys in the locker room who use their platform for the betterment of society.
“My only thing is, and I thought Cam did a good job of it, when you do that, you’re going to get a camera in your face. Just be prepared to give an intelligent, well-backed up statement and I thought he did,” added Wood.
“Togetherness. Awareness. Bringing awareness. Everyone needs to come together. Everyone’s in this for the long run you know what I mean? Seeing Chris Long’s arm around Malcolm Jenkins, that’s what sparked it for me,” said Jefferson.
When asked if he would continue to silently protest the national anthem going forward, Jefferson didn’t say anything.
He just nodded.