Bills rookie QB apologizes for racially insensitive comment

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Jake Fromm apologized for using the phrase “elite white people” in a text conversation from more than a year ago, and posted on social media early Thursday.

The former Georgia starter posted his apology on his Twitter account, in which he wrote: “I’m truly sorry for my words and actions and humbly ask for forgiveness.”

In saying he never meant to imply he was an elite white male, which he noted during the text conversation, Fromm added: “There’s no excuse for that word choice and sentiment. While it was poor, my heart is not.”

Fromm, selected in the fifth round of the draft in April, said he also apologized to his teammates and coaches in a team meeting.

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“He was wrong and he admitted it to us. We don’t condone what he said,” the Bills said in a released statement. “We will continue to work with Jake on the responsibilities of being a Buffalo Bill on and off the field.”

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who is black, addressed Fromm’s comments and apology during his already scheduled Zoom call with reporters. He expects the Bills leadership group to reach out to the quarterback and hoped this can become a teachable moment.

“Jake seemed very sincere in his apology,” Frazier said.

“He made a mistake and he acknowledged it. There are a number of us that can say the same thing at some point or another, especially in our youth,” he added. “You move on and you grow from it. And that’s what we’re going to try to do I’m sure as a team, grow from it. I know Jake wants to grow from it as well.”

Fromm’s text conversation was captured in two screen shots and posted on an account with the name of @ashleymp20 shortly before 1 a.m. The exchange, which took place in March 2019, features four consecutive texts from Fromm, which begin with: “I thought we were talkin about lots of stuff.”

Fromm then proceeds to write: “But no guns are good. They need to let me get suppressors. Just make them very expensive so only elite white people can get them haha.”

The revelation of the text exchange comes at a sensitive time, a little over a week after George Floyd was killed while being arrested by police in Minnesota. Floyd’s death has resulted in a large number of protests taking place across the nation, including Buffalo.

“Now, more than ever, is the time for support and togetherness and I stand against racism 100%” Fromm wrote in his apology. “I promise to commit myself to being a part of the solution in this country.”

Frazier shared a story with the team dating to when he played for the Chicago Bears in the 1980s. He recalled being stopped and questioned by police for being in a suburban Chicago mall. It wasn’t until after police realized he was a Bears player when the tone of the conversation changed.

“If I had been Leslie Frazier, Citizen A, who knows where the conversation would’ve gone,” Frazier said.

“But that’s the platform athletics gives you,” he said. “I wanted our guys to understand they have a golden opportunity at this moment to use the pedestal and the platform that they have to get involved and make a difference in their own way.”

In Fromm’s case, Frazier hoped players don’t judge the rookie too harshly.

“It’s easy to just continue down that hate, hate, hate, road, but that’s not where we want to be,” Frazier said. “If we want to change this, there has to be a reciprocal effort on both sides, and we have enough guys on our team that want change for the better.”

The Bills had a similar situation occur with current starter Josh Allen upon being selected in the first round of the 2018 draft. Allen apologized after it was revealed on the day of the draft that he posted a series of racially insensitive tweets while still in high school.

Though the Bills did not have an immediate need at quarterback, general manager Brandon Beane acknowledged Fromm was too good of a talent to pass up when Buffalo made the 167th pick. With Allen as Buffalo’s established starter, and with the NFL’s spring practice schedule wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, the expectation is for Fromm to compete with Matt Barkley and Davis Webb for the backup job.

From Warner Robins, Georgia, the 21-year-old Fromm was a three-year starter at Georgia and led the Bulldogs to three consecutive SEC championship appearances, and the College Football Playoff title game in 2018, which ended with an overtime loss to Alabama.

The knock on Fromm was that, at 6-foot-2 and 215, he lacked a quarterback’s prototypical size for the NFL level. His arm strength was also questioned, especially after Fromm had a poor outing at the league’s scouting combine.

Fromm finished his college career completing 621 of 982 attempts for 8,224 yards, with 78 touchdowns and only 18 interceptions. He was the SEC’s freshman of the year in 2017, and led the nation with 30 touchdown passes in 2018.

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