Drew Brees apologizes for 'insensitive' comments on national anthem protests
NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees is walking back his comments criticizing national anthem protests after facing massive backlash on social media from his teammates and other high-profile figures.
The saga began after Brees' comments during an interview with Yahoo! Finance Wednesday. The Saints quarterback was asked about the likelihood of the controversial sign of protest returning for the upcoming season in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said on Wednesday. "When I look at the flag of the United States, I envision my two grandfathers who fought for this country during World War II, one in the army and one in the Marine Corps, both risking their lives to protect our country."
Highlight: @readdanwrite asks @drewbrees what the star NFL quarterback thinks about "players kneeling again when the NFL season starts."@drewbrees: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 3, 2020
Full exchange: pic.twitter.com/MpCkFyOMed
Brees' comments immediately drew ire on Twitter, including from NBA star LeBron James, who argued that taking a knee had "nothing to do with the disrespect" of the flag or the military. Saints teammates like Michael Thomas and Malcom Jenkins were also spoke out, with the latter saying he was "hurt" by Brees' response.
WOW MAN!! ??????. Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of ???? and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those https://t.co/pvUWPmh4s8— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
On Thursday morning, Brees released a statement saying he had been "insensitive and completely missed the mark" with his response.
View this post on Instagram
I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character. This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick garnered national attention, including criticism from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, when he knelt during the anthem back in 2016 in protest of police brutality. Brees was largely quiet on the issue at the time, but he joined other Saints players kneeling before the anthem when the protest swept much of the league during the 2017 season.
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