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Sean McDermott is reportedly safe in his job as Bills head coach despite the team's 2023 struggles. But some off-field controversy surfaced for McDermott on Thursday, when the coach addressed a regretful team meeting from years earlier, during which he admittedly used the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as an attempted motivational tool for his players.

Reporting on McDermott's struggles for the Go Long website this week, Tyler Dunne cited anonymous Bills sources, including former players, to describe awkward interactions between the coach and his team. Chief among the examples: an apparent "9/11 speech" used during 2019 training camp, in which McDermott allegedly highlighted the hijackers who helped carry out the infamous terrorist attacks, asking players to consider how they were able to effectively strategize and execute their goals.

Asked Thursday about the report, McDermott all but confirmed its accuracy, admitting he had "ironically" intended to illustrate good team communication with the alleged speech. He also said he addressed potential misinterpretations immediately, back in 2019.

"It was mentioning 9/11 in the context of the team meeting," McDermott told reporters Thursday. "The goal of the team meeting was about the importance of communication and being on the same page as a team. ... I (apologized) if anyone whatsoever felt a certain type of way coming out of that. ... I didn't do a good enough job communicating clearly the intent of my message. ... I do plan on meeting with the team (again). It is important to me that we're all on the same page. ... I regretted and apologized for me not doing a good job of clearly communicating my point."

McDermott added Thursday that his original intent was to use the Sept. 11 attacks -- which he said personally cost him loved ones -- to encourage the team because the events were so easily recognizable -- "an important event, a horrific event in our history."