This was bound to happen somewhere in the sports world. An outspoken supporter of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump leading a team of players that don’t view Trump in the greatest of lights.
It now appears this is taking hold in Buffalo, where Bills head coach Rex Ryan has been a staunch supporter of the enigmatic and often controversial business mogul (more on that here).
In a wide-ranging look at how the 2016 Presidential Election has split the National Football League primarily along the lines of race, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman found out some rather alarming information within the Bills locker room.
“Rex is such an open-minded guy, a really good person,” an unnamed Bills player told Freeman. “But the fact he could back someone as closed-minded as Trump genuinely shocked me.”
Overall, Freeman’s poll found that 21-of-21 white players he spoke with plan to vote for Trump in next month’s election. Meanwhile, just two out of 22 African Americans will throw their support behind the GOP candidate.
While that one unnamed Bills player might not have called Ryan out publicly, another took a much firmer stance when speaking to Freeman.
“I see Trump as someone who is hostile to people of color, and the fact that Rex supports him made me look at him completely differently,” another Bills player added. “And not in a positive way.”
This was bound to happen with the nation in the midst of a heated general election where divisiveness seems to be the name of the game.
Whether any of this impacts what we see from the Bills on the field remains to be seen. What we do know is that there’s clearly a split in the team’s locker room. It doesn’t have to do with Ryan’s coaching philosophy. It doesn’t involve the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Instead, it’s about a head coach’s support of a presidential candidate that is not seen as representative of the some of the players Ryan himself is coaching.
The rift itself also doesn’t seem to be simply between Ryan and his players. In what can’t seen as too much of a surprise, guard Richie Incognito threw support behind both his head coach and the GOP Presidential candidate.
“I think that he can help this nation get back to a world superpower,” Incognito told Freeman. “Where I think he could help is putting us first again and having that — it’s my mentality, too — having that tough attitude where you put America first and everyone’s thinking we’re the greatest nation in the world. Don’t mess with America. That toughness is where I identify with him.”
Call that a bully pulpit, maybe? Joke aside, it does speak to a split between races in the NFL, and potentially even the Bills’ locker room itself.
At a time when the NFL is seeing its product brought to the forefront due to players protesting perceived race-based injustice in this country, anything that sparks the flame even further could set into motion widespread issues between now and November’s election.
This report on the issues surrounding the Bills’ locker room is a prime example of that.