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Bills Ryan says standing for anthem pays respect to military

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan believes standing for the national anthem is a way for NFL players and coaches to show respect and give thanks to members of the armed forces.

“You’ve got to look at the gifts that we have, the opportunity that we have to play a great game is through the men and women that serve our country,” Ryan said before practice on Sunday. “And I think that’s an opportunity right there just to show respect.”

He was asked his opinion a day after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he is refusing to stand for the anthem because he believes the United States oppresses African Americans and other minorities.

Without specifically mentioning Kaepernick, Ryan said he can appreciate how some players have personal or religious beliefs that lead them to not stand for the anthem.

“Any time when I talk to our team about that, if there’s personal beliefs or whatever that keeps you from doing it, then I understand,” he said.

However, Ryan added, he encourages his players to stand for the anthem, and to do so as a team in a straight line along the sideline.

“That’s kind of our way of giving thanks,” Ryan said. “It’s an important thing for me.”

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Bills owner credits Kathryn Smith for earning her promotion

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula congratulated Kathryn Smith for becoming the NFL’s first full-time female assistant coach by saying she earned the promotion.

“Kathryn has been a part of Rex (Ryan’s) staff for the past seven years and has proven that she does excellent work,” Pegula said in a statement released to The Associated Press on Thursday. “While we understand the significance of this announcement, it’s important to understand that Kathryn earned this position because she has shown she is qualified, dedicated and puts in the work needed for this role.”

Pegula issued the statement a day after the Bills broke the league’s gender barrier by promoting Smith to be their special teams quality control coach.

“The Bills organization is proud of Kathryn and her promotion,” Pegula added. “We look forward to the contributions she will make to our organization in her new role.”

The move has generated a tremendous amount of buzz and attention.

Chelsea Clinton took notice by posting a note on her Twitter account. The daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton wrote “(hash)NoCeilings” in posting a link to a story about Smith’s promotion.

Smith’s appointment comes after Jen Welter served a six-week training camp internship last summer coaching inside linebackers for the Arizona Cardinals.

Smith is well-known within the Bills staff after spending this season as an administrative assistant for the team’s assistant coaches. She spent the past seven years working alongside Ryan.

She was the New York Jets player personnel assistant when Ryan took over as coach in 2009. Smith then served as Ryan’s assistant in 2014, his final year in New York before he was fired and then hired by the Bills.

“She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her outstanding qualities,” Ryan said in a statement released by the team. “She has proven that she’s ready for the next step.”

The 30-year-old Smith grew up outside of Syracuse, New York, and was a three-sport athlete at Christian Brothers Academy, where she was on the swimming, bowling and field hockey teams. She also spent time assisting her father Robert in serving as the school football team’s statistician.

Smith then attended St. John’s University, where she studied sports management and also worked as a men’s basketball team manager.

While at St. John’s, she landed internships with the New York Jets, first in a game-day/special events position and then a role in college scouting.

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Tyrod Taylor scrambles for 18-yard touchdown run (VIDEO)

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Spoiler alert! Tyrod Taylor doesn’t want to see the New York Jets in the playoffs.

The fifth-year Buffalo Bills quarterback opened the scoring against Gang Green in Week 17 by breaking off an impressive 18-yard touchdown scamper. Taylor couldn’t find anyone open down the field and took off left, stretching out to knock down the pylon to put the Bills up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, New York will secure a playoff berth with a win over Buffalo and former head coach Rex Ryan.