Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen said he has reached out to rookie Jake Fromm after text messages leaked last week of Fromm saying guns should be priced to a point where only "elite white people" would be able to afford them.
The rookie apologized in a written statement and to his teammates. Allen said he hasn't spoken in depth with Fromm since the incident, but believes Fromm has taken the first step toward gaining his teammates' trust back.
"I sent him a text saying I love you and I'm here for you if you need anything," Allen said. "He owned up to his mistakes and he talked to the team and if anyone had any questions about him, they asked him directly. It was a shame that it happened ... He was extremely sorry and regretful and super hurt by it. He didn't mean to cause anybody any pain -- and I think the guys responded well to him.
"It's still going to be a hill that he continues to climb with the guys in the locker room."
Speaking to reporters via Zoom on Thursday afternoon, Allen likened Fromm's experience to his own as a rookie in 2018 -- when offensive and racist tweets he sent as a teenager emerged shortly before the draft.
Allen said his primary focus was to prove to his teammates the content of his character, which took time but ultimately came to fruition.
"Going back to 2018 when I got drafted, my mindset was to get into the locker room and show them who I really was as a person," he said. "I can say without a doubt that guys know who I am now. I definitely think it's going to take time but at the same time, we learn and we grow as we get older. We see different things and we meet different people that kind of open your eyes and change your mind about different things."
On Thursday Allen made his first public comments since George Floyd's killing while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers sparked worldwide protests of police brutality and systemic racism.
The third-year quarterback said he has spent the past two weeks trying to put himself in the shoes of his teammates -- specifically his black teammates -- and affirmed that he stands "with the black community."
"What I have been doing is having conversations with teammates and trying to listen and trying to learn," he said. "I'm in a position where I've never been pulled over and feared for my life. I think that's a horrible thing that many people of color have to go through.
"When they get pulled over, they're holding their breath, they're anxious, they don't know what's going on and they're very fearful and I don't think that's right. It's terrible beyond any words."
Allen has learned from not only his teammates' experiences but also from his NFL peers' errors. Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew widespread criticism for his comments on players who kneel in protest during the national anthem, saying he will "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America."
Brees apologized shortly after and Allen said the experience taught him to "be completely informed on a subject before commenting on it."
From a football standpoint, Allen said last month's workout with most of the Bills' offensive skill players will go a long way toward building chemistry with the team's new receiver, Stefon Diggs, who was traded to Buffalo in March.
Allen and Diggs met for the first time at that Florida workout and have been in touch this offseason, even playing multiple games of Call of Duty: Warzone together. Allen said that time spent together gave him an up-close look at Diggs' work ethic -- and proved the former Viking is more than what some of the negative stories about him have painted him to be.
"He wasn't [at the workout in Florida] for himself, he was there for the betterment of the team," Allen said. "I thought that was pretty special. You hear all these crazy stories in the media and I think that he's gotten a bad rep."
Although he is not currently living in Buffalo, Allen has paid close attention to the events in the city over the past two weeks, including the video that emerged last week of two Buffalo police officers shoving 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground and refusing to help him as he lay bleeding on the pavement.
The department initially put out a statement that Gugino was injured when he "tripped and fell," but the two officers were suspended after the video was posted on social media. Fifty-seven members of the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team resigned their posts with the unit in support of the two officers.
Allen said the former members were "rightfully" no longer part of the response team -- because they don't deserve to be, not because they are correct in supporting the suspended officers.