'It was a bad, bad situation'
Sean McDermott isn't talking about 13 Seconds. So, Go Long reached out to players who will. Here's the inside story and what it says about the team — and head coach — into 2022.
The only thing more bizarre than how the Buffalo Bills lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC divisional playoff round may be how this loss was handled the next 48 hours.
Obviously, Sean McDermott owed more to the public. Football is religion in Western New York where locals show up at the airport to greet the team after wins and losses to unhealthy extremes. Not to mention the hefty bill they’ll soon foot to fund a new stadium. This 42-36 overtime defeat inflicted the sort of emotional scars that will never heal. Take a drive through Orchard Park, N.Y. and people still fly a Bills flag at half-staff, still agonize over the surreal defeat at Spot Coffee en masse, still look like they encountered the devil himself at the mere mention of Thirteen Seconds. And what did the team’s head man have to say about one of the most epic choke jobs in pro football history? This inexplicable, spear through the heart that ruined one of the city’s best chances at its first championship?
In the immediate aftermath, McDermott refused to get into specifics, saying, “We need to execute better and that starts with me and goes all the way down. … Obviously they made a couple plays down the stretch. So, I’ll just leave it at that right now.”
Two days later, he added nothing: “Our execution, I wish was different. I wish our execution was different.”
Five weeks later, his talking point didn’t change one iota.
No amount of filibustering on and on about the fans will change the fact that he supplied those same fans zero explanation for their torment. But, fine. That’s his prerogative, I suppose. Surely, McDermott said more to his team behind the scenes. Surely, he stood in front of everyone and detailed what went down those fateful 13 seconds and/or provided a sense of real closure because, after all, these are the people who matter most. The players and the coaches who’ve sacrificed so much for him in the name of accountability.
Only, he did not. He held a generic, “We’ll grow from this”-themed address. The position coaches met with their players, then with the personnel department for year-end summaries on each player and… goodbye. Have a nice offseason. That’s it. Nothing was shared openly amongst players and coaches alike. Everything ended very “abruptly,” one team source said.
Many were left wanting more.
“You preach accountability,” one player said. “But you don’t practice it.”