ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Bills running back Fred Jackson hasn’t forgotten or forgiven what former teammate Donte Whitner had to say about the franchise, the city of Buffalo and rookie receiver Sammy Watkins last summer.
Jackson spoke out against the Browns safety on Wednesday, adding extra spice to a key AFC playoff showdown this weekend when Cleveland (7-4) travels to play Buffalo (6-5).
”It’s annoying. It’s just dumb for him to do and talk about people like that, and talk about the city of Buffalo like that,” Jackson said. ”I think it’s him just being an idiot and trying to ruffle feathers.”
Article continues below ...
Jackson urged teammates and fans take Whitner’s comments with a grain of salt.
And yet, Jackson added he wouldn’t mind a chance to run into the safety on the field.
”Will I look for him? If I get a chance to, yeah,” Jackson said. ”But it won’t be a one-on-one personal thing, where it’s me looking for him.”
Whitner wasn’t backing down in Cleveland, where he was relayed Jackson’s comments following the Browns practice.
”That’s crazy,” Whitner said. ”I don’t really care about words and feelings and things like that.”
And forget an apology.
”I’m not sorry that happened,” Whitner said. ”It wasn’t a joke. I knew that it would, you know, get to them. I knew it would ruffle a feather. And if they’re over there talking about this, maybe we are in their heads.”
Whitner certainly knew what buttons to push. He spent his first five seasons in Buffalo after the Bills selected him in the first round of the 2006 draft. Unhappy with the Bills’ contract offer, Whitner left Buffalo to sign with San Francisco following the NFL lockout in 2011.
Whitner, who is from Cleveland, then signed with the Browns in March.
In July, Whitner went to Twitter and engaged – and enraged – Bills fans during the uncertainty of the franchise’s sale process following the death of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson. Whitner predicted the team would be sold and relocated to Toronto.
”Wonder how you Bills fans gonna feel when the team is moved? LOL,” Whitner wrote. ”Can you say Toronto Bills?!?”
The Bills were sold last month to NHL Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who are committed to keeping the franchise in Buffalo.
That wasn’t all from Whitner. In June, he took exception to comments Watkins made in an interview published in the Akron Beacon Journal. The rookie first-round pick said he was looking forward to playing Cleveland after the Browns traded the No. 4 pick to Buffalo in allowing the Bills to move up five spots for the right to draft Watkins.
”It’ll be a great matchup,” Watkins said. ”We can go out there, battle, scrap, have a couple of fights.”
Whitner took offense because he felt Watkins was challenging the Browns to fight.
”Be quiet Sammy. Trust me!” Whitner wrote. ”All you wack buffalo fans don’t have to feel this. Sammy will!”
Watkins, on Wednesday, still didn’t exactly understand what he did wrong.
”He’s been playing great. They’ve been playing great,” Watkins said. ”You’ve got to look past it. All I can do is worry about myself.”
Bills safety Aaron Williams defended Watkins on Twitter in July, and did so again on Wednesday.
”I just looked at the conversation and just had my teammate’s back,” Williams said. ”That’s Donte. He doesn’t really like it here for whatever reason.”
Reminders of Whitner’s tweets come at a sensitive time for the Bills. The team was forced to relocate to Detroit for four days last weekend after a severe winter snowstorm paralyzed much of the region.
The Bills dedicated their 38-3 win over the New York Jets at Detroit on Monday night to their snowbound fans.
Whitner’s comments struck a nerve with Jackson.
”For him to say stuff about that, about the people we love in this organization, he’ll never get my respect,” Jackson said.
Browns coach Mike Pettine, who spent last season as the Bills defensive coordinator, said he and Whitner shouldn’t expect a warm welcome on Sunday. Pettine, however, played down the potential impact Whitner’s comments might have on the game.
”We discourage our guys from that. But I’m not going to micromanage it,” Pettine said.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Berea, Ohio, contributed to this report.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL