Buffalo Bills star LeSean McCoy said an apology from team legend Jim Kelly wasn't necessary because his opinion about the running back's method of protest during Sunday's national anthem "really doesn't matter" despite the pair's friendship.
After Kelly said Monday he "lost a lot of respect" for McCoy, McCoy responded in comments to the media Wednesday:
"Like I texted him, he said some things to the media that he probably could have said to me. But his opinion, it really doesn't matter to me. I like Jim Kelly. He texts me and I just told him, 'Hey, you're human.' People have their own opinions. What you said, you don't have to apologize for it. I don't think you're wrong. That's how he felt. I understand. You're human and I told him exactly, 'My respect for you, it hasn't changed. It's still very high.' He's a hell of a player and I respect him when I met him, and even the relationship I have so far. So it didn't affect me at all."
Rather than stand or kneel, which has become the most popular form of protest since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement last year, McCoy went through a stretching routine ahead of the Bills' Week 3 clash with the Denver Broncos at New Era Field.
McCoy elaborated Wednesday on his response to Trump's comments:
"I was extremely hurt, to be honest. Because at first, everybody has their own opinions, like I talked about. People believe in different things, they stand up for what they want to stand up for, that's their right. And some of the words that the President used, it just rubbed me the wrong way. I was upset and I was frustrated. That's the way I wanted to express myself at the game. I took a knee. I started stretching. I was angry. I was hurt, just like I said after the game. Somebody like our president, being our leader of this country, where millions and millions and millions of people look at America and see the type of words and things he's saying about us. I mean, it just got to me. It really did."
Kelly didn't approve of the choice by McCoy and expressed his frustration Monday during an appearance on Buffalo radio station 97 Rock (via Sal Maiorana of the Democrat & Chronicle):
"I like LeSean McCoy, don't get me wrong, but I totally, 100 percent disagree with what he did. You want to kneel? Fine. But when you go and do what he did yesterday, that sort of bummed me out. And I lost a lot of respect for him.
"You want to kneel? That's your prerogative. I would never do that. I will always stand, thank the good Lord for everything I got. But when you disrespect the way he did and just go by his everyday duty in the national anthem being sung? Uh-uh. I won't go for that."
Kelly later provided an updated statement about the situation, which read in part: "I am so thankful that we live in a country where we are able to express ourselves freely. In that regard, I want to be clear that I agree with the reason some NFL players have chosen to peacefully protest and appreciate players, coaches and organizations being unified."
McCoy said Bills players have yet to decide how to handle the protests moving forward as they prepare to face the reigning NFC champion Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday.