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Saints QB Drew Brees Apologizes For Comments Regarding NFL Players Kneeling During Anthem

Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints stands with his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem before a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Superdome during week 4 of the preseason on August 30, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Rams 28-0. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees issued an apology for his recent comments about disrespecting the United States flag and NFL players kneeling during the national anthem at games.

The Saints signal-caller shared the apology via an Instagram posted on Thursday, June 4, one day after his comments about the U.S. flag and players kneeling during the anthem.

“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,” Brees posted.

During the 2016 NFL season, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem prior to kickoff. Kaepernick said he knelt to protest police brutality and racial injustice.

Racial inequality is once again at the front of the nation’s conscience after the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a white police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Drew Brees Apologizes For Comments

Along with his apology, Brees shared a photo of two hands — of different skin tones — interlocked.

“In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees continued. “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.”

The Saints quarterback continued his post by outlining “where I stand” on racial injustice and inequality.

  • “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.”

Brees finished his post by saying, “I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”

 

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Criticism Against Drew Brees

The Saints quarterback came under fire for comments made during an interview with Yahoo! Finance on Wednesday, June 3.

During the interview, the QB was asked about his thoughts on “players kneeling again when the NFL season starts.”

Brees responded, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”

The quarterback had previously shared a message of social unity on his Instagram account.

Since Brees’ comments on June 3, multiple professional athletes have called out the Saints quarterback’s remarks. Some of those players include Los Angeles Lakers forward and NBA star LeBron James.

In addition to James, some of Brees’ Saints teammates also criticized the QB’s comments.

Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas didn’t directly address Brees’ comments but retweeted a post that seemed aimed at the quarterback. Thomas added a sickened emoji after NFL writer Mike Freeman tweeted, “How can anyone watch George Floyd get murdered and their first response when asked about it is ResPEcC tHe fLAg.”

New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins shared his reaction to Brees’ comments in a video post on Twitter.

WARNING: Jenkins’ video post features graphic language.

On June 4, Saints linebacker Demario Davis reacted to Brees’ apology during an interview with CNN.

“He admitted that he missed the mark,” Davis said. “For him to admit that he was wrong and say ‘you know what? I can do better and I will do better.’ I think that is leadership at its finest,” Davis said.

Thomas joined Davis in accepting Brees’ apology.

“One of my brothers made a public statement yesterday that I disagreed with. He apologized and I accept it because that’s what we are taught to do as Christians,” the Saints receiver tweeted. “Now back to the movement!”

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