Jim Kelly has taken a softer stance on his criticism of NFL players protesting during the national anthem.
In statement to The Buffalo News, the Buffalo Bills' Hall-of-Fame quarterback said: "I want to offer some clarification in regards to my recent comments. First and foremost, like so many, I love the United States and the great game of football. (Sunday) we saw how passionate players are in regards to peaceful protests that occurred in many NFL stadiums, including New Era Field where I was in attendance.
"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.
"I would hope that while we all, myself included, may not agree with using the National Anthem as the appropriate forum for such display, we should continue strive to work through these issues with great respect for each. God Bless."
Monday morning, during his weekly appearance on Buffalo radio station WGRF, Kelly was critical of Bills running back LeSean McCoy for sitting on the turf and stretching as the anthem was sung before Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos.
"I like LeSean McCoy, don't get me wrong, but that totally 100-percent I disagree with what he did," Kelly said during the radio appearance. "You want to kneel? Fine. But when you do what he did yesterday, that sort of bummed me out and I lost a lot of respect for that man."
The former quarterback's comments drew sharp criticism later Monday from Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes, who described them as "not cool, very unacceptable." Hughes said he was "very disappointed" in Kelly.