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LeSean McCoy to Jim Kelly: 'My respect for you hasn't changed'

LeSean McCoy said he doesn't have any hard feelings toward Jim Kelly.

In fact, the Buffalo Bills' running back said the Bills' former quarterback didn't owe him an apology for saying on a radio show Monday he lost respect for McCoy for being on the ground and stretching during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos.

The Hall of Famer drew criticism from Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes for his comments, but Kelly said, and Hughes confirmed Wednesday, the two later had a lengthy phone conversation to resolve the matter. Kelly also said Monday, and McCoy confirmed Wednesday, they exchanged texts Monday and that all is good between them.

"Like I texted him, he said some things to the media that he probably could have said to me, but it doesn't really matter to me," McCoy told reporters. "I like Jim Kelly. He texted me and I just told him, 'Hey, you're human. People have their own opinions. And what you said? You don't have to apologize for it. I don't think you're wrong. That's how you felt, I understand. You're human.'

"I told him exactly, 'My respect for you hasn't changed. It's still very high.' He was a hell of a player and I respect him when I met him and even the relationship we've had so far. It didn't affect me at all.

"Opinions about good or bad or football-wise or outside of football, that doesn't matter to me, as far as him as a person. He's a human being."

McCoy said the reason he chose to stretch while a dozen of his teammates were kneeling and the rest stood during the anthem, was part of a harsh reaction to harsh comments President Trump made about NFL players' protests.

"I was extremely hurt, to be honest," he said. "Some of the words that the president used, they just rubbed me the wrong way. They really did. I was upset and I was frustrated, and 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.

"Like I said after the game, someone like the president, being our leader of this country, from millions and millions and millions of people that they look at America, see the type of words and the things he's saying about us, it just got to me."

The running back said he "hadn't thought about" what he or his teammates would be doing as a form of protest when the anthem is played before this Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Several other Bills players, including some of the dozen who chose to kneel before the Denver game, also were uncertain about the plans for Atlanta.

However, at least two of the players among those kneeling, cornerback Shareece Wright and receiver Kaelin Clay, said they intended to kneel again.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters in Atlanta Wednesday that his players and coaches planned to lock arms Sunday and encouraged fans attending the game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to do the same.

“I think that would be kind of a nice tribute as we’re getting started," Quinn said. "It’s an important time in our world. There are a lot of issues that are really important to talk about, and we’ll spend some time and we have as a team talking through some of those.”

McCoy said that whatever the Bills do, they will do as a team and that it was important to remain consistent.

"It's OK to express your feelings in a different way (collectively), but I don't want to make it where every week, we're adjusting this; every practice, we're adjusting this, taking away from our job," McCoy said. "Because on that field, man, it's go. Those guys on defense are trying to hit us hard and trying to be physical with us and so we want to make sure that we're mentally focused on the job at hand.

"So this week, we really want to get back to just playing football and focusing, and I guess we'll just go over that with the (leadership) council and see where the team, how we feel, together and where we go for the future."

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