ake Fromm hasn’t attended a live practice as the Bills’ 2020 fifth-round draft pick, but his hopes of making the team have already taken a hit. The former Georgia quarterback didn’t do himself any favors when he made it tougher for his new teammates to give him love right away.
Fromm already has made his worst rookie mistake — which he committed in the year before being selected by Buffalo. He apologized Thursday for using the phrase “elite white people” during a leaked text message conversation from 2019.
“There’s no excuse for that word choice and sentiment,” read part of Fromm’s statement on Twitter. “I promise I commit myself to being part of the solution in this country. … Again I’m truly sorry for my words and actions and humbly ask for forgiveness.”
What Fromm said in the text exchange is further troubling because of the context in which it was mentioned.
Fromm was a successful three-year starter at Georgia, his home-state school, going 35-7 while showing the pro makeup that got him drafted on Day 3 despite having limited arm strength and athleticism. The Bills picked up a developmental talent to compete with Matt Barkley for No. 2 duty behind third-year franchise QB Josh Allen.
Although Fromm first came clean to the Bills in internal discussions, there’s no doubt he will now have a tougher battle to be fully welcomed in the locker room.
“Jake was honest and forthcoming to us about the text exchange,” part of the Bills’ statement read, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “He asked for an opportunity to address and apologize to his teammates and coaches in a team meeting today, and he did. We will continue to work with Jake on the responsibilities of being a Buffalo Bill on and off the field.”
The Bills have to be more disappointed than that last sentence, to the point there already should be regret for drafting Fromm without completely vetting him. It’s always the absolute wrong time for an NFL player to make a racist remark, whatever the context. It’s even worse when it’s made by a rookie without guaranteed status and disclosed during an offseason when the team is unable to gather, work together and confront problems in person.
Colin Kaepernick, who was ahead of the rest of the NFL in bringing attention to social justice issues with his national anthem kneeling protests in 2016, couldn’t be signed even as a third-string QB despite his much higher ceiling as a thrower and athlete. It’s not a good look to see Fromm get that shot as a much more physically limited prospect.
If Fromm thought picking up a complex NFL offense for a strong playoff contender was hard, he can expect everything for him to get harder still as he tries to mesh with players who are unfamiliar to him, those who are African-American and otherwise. The difference between Fromm and the Saints’ Drew Brees is that Fromm has no kind of equity built up on his team and in the league. That will make it a lot more difficult for him to recover.