The St. Louis Rams and St. Louis County police are in something of a feud over the definition of “apology.”
Chief Jon Belmar sent an email to his staff Monday night informing them that a senior Rams executive called to apologize for some players’ show of support for protesters in Ferguson, Mo., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Five players had entered the stadium before Sunday’s game making the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture popular with protesters. Although the St. Louis Police Association called the gesture “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory” and called on the NFL to punish the players, the league said Monday that it would take no disciplinary action against them.
Belmar wrote his staff that Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, called “to take the opportunity to apologize” to the police department on behalf of the team.
“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,” he wrote, as quoted by the Post-Dispatch. “My impression of the call was that it was heartfelt and I assured him that I would share it with my staff.”
Demoff didn’t dispute that he called Belmar. But he told ESPN.com that he never apologized during the conversation.
“In those conversations, I expressed regret that players’ actions were construed negatively against law enforcement,” he told ESPN, adding that the team believes “it is possible to support both our players’ First Amendment rights and the efforts of local law enforcement to make this a better community.”
The St. Louis County police stuck by their characterization of the conversation with Demoff on social media, however.
“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 police department said in a Facebook post.
Apology: “expression of regret for not being able to do something”
@kdemoff: “I regretted any offense their officers may have taken.”
— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) December 2, 2014
This post has been updated.