St. Louis County police claimed Monday night that the Rams vice president and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff apologized to them for five players from the team who made the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture in support of Ferguson demonstrators during introductions during the game on Sunday against the Raiders. However, Demoff later said that he did not "apologize" for the players' actions, but he did "express remorse for how those actions were construed," according to ESPN.
The police department countered back that it was an apology, going as far to quote a dictionary definition for apology. They released a statement in response to Demoff on their Facebook page:
Regarding statements on an "apology" from Rams COO Kevin Demoff:
Chief Belmar was contacted today by St. Louis Rams COO Kevin Demoff. The Chief never asked for anyone from the Rams to contact him. He said the conversation was pleasant. The Chief sent an email to his police staff and used the word "apologized." Mr. Demoff is quoted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch story saying "I expressed to both of them that I felt badly that our players' support of the community was taken as disrespectful to law enforcement." He further stated "I regretted any offense the officer's may have taken."
Even though Mr. Demoff stated he never apologized, the Chief believed it to be an apology and the Chief sent the email to police staff to let them know about the call, after he told Mr. Demoff he would share his sentiments with his staff.
The entire situation started after the St. Louis Police Officers Association issued a statement Sunday after the game calling for the players to be punished and demanding an apology from the team and the NFL. The NFL and the team declined to punish the players for making the "Hands Up" gesture, but officials from the Rams met with police representatives on Monday.
Following that meeting, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar informed the police department about the apology via email. The Post-Dispatch obtained a copy of the message from Belmar.
Members of the Department,
I received a very nice call this morning from Mr. Kevin Demoff of the St. Louis Rams who wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to our department on behalf of the Rams for the "Hands Up" gesture that some players took the field with yesterday.
Mr. Demoff clearly regretted that any members of the Ram's organization would act in a way that minimized the outstanding work that police officers and departments carry out each and every day. My impression of the call was that it was heartfelt and I assured him that I would share it with my staff.
It didn't take long for Demoff to respond. He told Nick Wagoner of ESPN that he did not apologize for the actions of the Rams players.
"At no time in any of the conversations did I apologize for the actions of our players." -- Kevin Demoff to me just a moment ago.— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) December 2, 2014
While he did not "apologize" for the players, he did hedge in what he told the police.
Demoff said he expressed remorse about how the actions of the players were construed but did not apologize for the actions themselves.— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) December 2, 2014
On Tuesday, Demoff clarified his stance through MMQB's Peter King:
Rams COO Kevin Demoff: "We believe it is possible to both support our players' right to free speech and support our local law enforcement."— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) December 2, 2014
Demoff2: "They shouldn't have to be mutually exclusive."— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) December 2, 2014
The two sides are basically arguing over the semantics of what was said that sounded like an apology but maybe wasn't, PR speak in other words. The Rams are in a difficult spot here, painted into a corner by the letter from the police association they received Sunday.
The players explained their actions after the game, telling reporters that they planned to make the "hands up" gesture during introductions as a show of support for the community.
"We wanted to let the community know that we support the community," Kenny Britt told Wagoner after the game.
Head coach Jeff Fisher echoed his support for the players' right to make the gesture during his Monday afternoon press conference. "[The players] made the choice to exercise their free speech," Fisher said.
The Rams and the police officers group will meet again this week to discuss the issue, according to the report. Until then, their spokesperson said, the police union will not comment further on the situation.
Prior to Demoff's response, the Rams issued a statement after the story broke on Monday night. It reads:
We had positive discussions today with St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Sam Dotson, St. Louis County Chief of Police Chief Jon Belmar and representatives from the St. Louis Police Officers' Association and St. Louis County Police Association during which we expressed our respect for their concerns surrounding yesterday's game. What has transpired over the past four months is a tragedy that has impacted our entire community. Together we are beginning a healing process that will require time, energy and honest dialogue. The Rams will continue to build on what have always been strong and valued relationships with local law enforcement and the greater St. Louis community as we come together to help heal our region.