Rex Ryan Responds to Players' Concerns About Donald Trump Endorsement

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2016

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, left, shoes the stage with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, after introducing him during a campaign stop at the First Niagara Center, Monday, April 18, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo/Associated Press

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan said he’s “not worried about that at all” about players reportedly seeing him in a different light for publicly backing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, per the team’s official website (h/t Ron Clements of Sporting News).

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported on Wednesday that an anonymous black Bills player said that “the fact he could back someone as close-minded as Trump genuinely shocked me."

Freeman noted the player said other black players on the team were not pleased when Ryan publicly supported Trump in the upcoming election.

Freeman included a straw poll of 43 NFL players, 22 of whom are black and 21 of whom are white. Of the white players surveyed, all 21 said they plan on voting for Trump, while 20 of the 22 black players plan on voting for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Freeman also cited CNN/ORC polls that revealed 52 percent of white men plan on voting for Trump, while 95 percent of black voters plan on voting for Clinton.

Trump is a divisive candidate, but Ryan said he doesn't mind if everyone in his locker room doesn’t see eye-to-eye with him on politics, per Clements.

“I have no problem at all if somebody disagrees with me on my politics, or on this, that or whatever. That’s fine,” the coach said. “And I don’t hold it against anybody or begrudge anybody on their opinions over anything as well. So I think that’s a non-deal.”

The Buffalo locker room isn’t the only one where there's a split.

"Trump is a divisive name in a locker room," Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins said, according to Josh Paunil of Philadelphia magazine. “A lot of guys will talk politics, but usually not about Trump. Those might get a little heated depending on who you’re talking to.”

Jenkins stressed players can support who they choose, but he explained, “If I were to bring up the reasons that I didn’t like Trump—he says borderline racist things and says crazy things about women—the argument is probably going to be some way to justify it as opposed to understanding the impact that has on a person of color."

Clements and Freeman both pointed out Ryan introduced Trump before a rally in Buffalo in April. According to Freeman, Ryan praised the nominee for frequently saying what’s on his mind.

While that may appeal to Ryan, the things Trump says when he does speak his mind—and the coach’s support of them—apparently don't sit well with all of the players.

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