Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott has apologised for referencing the 9/11 hijackers in a team meeting in 2019.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the al-Qaeda attacks on 11 September, 2001 in the United States.
McDermott, 49, made the comments, which were first reported on Thursday, when talking about the importance of good communication within a team.
He said he “regretted and apologised” for his words at the time and would “do the same with the team today”.
“Not only was 9/11 a horrific event in our country’s history, but a day I lost a good family friend,” McDermott added.
He said that after realising how the message at the 2019 training camp sounded, he called another meeting an hour later to apologise to his players.
“It was mentioning 9/11 in the context of the team meeting – the goal of the meeting was about the importance of communication and being on the same page as a team,” he said.
“As I mentioned to the team then that I regretted and apologised for me not going a good enough job of communicating my point, I’m going to do the same with the team today.
“So if there’s anyone new, they understand how important that is to me and my family because it’s an important event, a horrific event in our history.”
Hijackers crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and a third hit the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense on 9/11.
A fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania after a passenger revolt.
“If anyone misinterpreted or didn’t understand my message, I apologise I didn’t do a good enough job of communicating clearly the intent of my message,” McDermott added.
“I felt it was important then, and I still feel like it’s important.”