Jim Kelly rails against Bills players kneeling: 'I hope next week we stand'

As happens with many Hall of Fame players who are known for their time with a particular team, they become ambassadors of sorts for the organization, frequently at games or other team events to glad-hand fans and season-ticket holders.

Jim Kelly is one such person, for the Buffalo Bills. Kelly and his family remained in the Buffalo area after he retired from the Bills, and his opinion carries weight when it comes to the team.

But after Sunday, when several Bills players opted to kneel during the national anthem (others linked arms or put a hand on a kneeling teammate), spurred by the callous words of President Donald Trump, Kelly took to social media to express his displeasure with those who did.

Former Buffalo Bills quarterback and Hall of Famer Jim Kelly acknowledges the crowd during a Bills game this month. (AP)

In an Instagram post, Kelly wrote in part, “Even though I’m thankful the BILLS won today, I’m really upset and sad about what’s happening. And I imagine many of you are too. …The only time I will ever take a knee is to pray and to thank the Good Lord for what he’s given me. We all have our issues. We all need to try and appreciate and understand each other and help each other and that goes for our PRESIDENT TOO. I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that we need to UNITE not SEPARATE. I hope next week we can STAND , LOCK ARMS and become ONE FAMILY.”

Kelly’s stance runs counter to the official public stance of the franchise; on Saturday night, the Bills released a statement credited to team owners Terry and Kim Pegula. It said that the Pegulas, coaches, players and other team staff met to “provide open dialogue and conversation,” called Trump’s remarks “divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community,” and that players have “the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner.”

But Kelly wasn’t the only one upset by the players’ actions; Erich Nikischer, who had worked at New Era Stadium for 30 years, quit his job on Sunday after the anthem ended.

“I waited until the national anthem ended, I took off my shirt, threw my Bills hat on the ground, walked out,” Nikischer told Buffalo’s WGRZ.

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