Drew Brees is being hit with backlash following his comments about the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter protests all over the world.
During a conversation with Yahoo!, the New Orleans Saints quarterback addressed the movement, as well as the anthem protests launched by Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Kaepernick’s protests began in response to police brutality against Black men and women. Four years later, taking a knee is back in headlines following the senseless killing of George Floyd, a Black man who was filmed being killed while in police custody.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said.
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.”
Full exchange: pic.twitter.com/MpCkFyOMed
— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 3, 2020
“I envision my two grandfathers who fought for this country during World War II,” Brees continued. “In many cases, it brings me to tears thinking about all that’s been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the Civil Rights movements of the ’60s and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.”
While Brees’ comments quickly drew criticism from Twitter, fellow athlete LeBron James also slammed the football pro.
“WOW MAN! 🤦🏾♂️. Is it still surprising at this point?” James wrote to Twitter. “Sure isn’t!”
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
🤦🏽♂️…. This ain’t it https://t.co/XOew9MW6gu
— Josh Jacobs (@iAM_JoshJacobs) June 3, 2020
Drew Brees was once my teammate. Had a long intellectual talk with him in the cold tub once. Drew….. you’re a smart man. This ain’t ignorance. This is picking a side and not caring enough to fight for justice because you’re comfortable within your own bubble. Silence is murder!
— Lamar Louis (@_ball_is_life23) June 3, 2020
Never was about disrespecting the armed forces. It’s about police brutality and racial injustices in our country. This country can’t be unified if African Americans are unjustly killed in the street because of the color of their skin https://t.co/BzRZgkOYnU
— Josh Hart (@joshhart) June 3, 2020
Drew Brees when asked about players kneeling: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
This is the problem. It's not about disrespecting the flag. It's about protesting injustice in America because #BlackLivesMatter
— Black Lives Matter (@HKrassenstein) June 3, 2020
The fact that Drew Brees is knowingly misrepresenting Kaep’s kneeling and protesting is really pissing me the fuck off. I served and my dad has served 27 years. None of this has ever been about that FUCKING FLAG.
— Alicia (@ok_alicia_) June 3, 2020
Drew Brees couldn't even directly say he understood why Colin protested injustice nor that he understood the anger of many black americans. He just talked about what the flag means to him.
But he posted a black box on instagram like he did somethin. That's the issue. https://t.co/bUs3g8AW86
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) June 3, 2020
Still can’t believe Drew Brees got on tv to talk about not disrespecting the flag THIS VERY MOMENT in time. Unbelievable. How do you look your teammates in the eyes?
— Tom (@TQSherwood) June 3, 2020
Despite his remarks, Brees participated in #BlackoutTuesday. He also shared a post in response to Floyd’s death, “Words to unite… A mentor of mine once told me that if you listen closely, the sound of children playing is the same no matter where you are in the world. The laughing, shouting, screaming, giggling… No matter what language you speak, no matter what your race, colour, religion… the exact same.”
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Words to unite.. A mentor of mine once told me that if you listen closely, the sound of children playing is the same no matter where you are in the world. The laughing, shouting, screaming, giggling… No matter what language you speak, no matter what your race, color, religion… the exact same. At some point we all change… The reasons… Our environment, experiences, education…The voices and influences around us. If you are reading this, you are probably one of those whose voice and influence is very powerful in the life of a young person. So when you ask what difference you can make in this world… It’s exactly that. Raise, teach, but most importantly model to young people what it is to love all and respect all. There is a saying in every locker room I have been in… Don’t just talk about it, be about it. Acknowledge the problem, and accept the fact that we all have a responsibility to make it better. “Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying”
Following the backlash, Brees shared a statement to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.
“I love and respect my teammates and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice,” Brees said. “I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis.”
He subsequently shared an apology on Instagram.
“It breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees wrote. “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.”
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.
And after one apology, came another.
In a video posted on Thursday night, Brees said, “I know there’s not much that I can say that would make things any better right now,” Brees said on Instagram. “But, I just want you to see in my eyes how sorry I am for the comments that I made yesterday.”
“I know that it hurt many people, especially friends, teammates, former teammates, loved ones, people that I care and respect deeply. That was never my intention,” he continued. “I wish I would have laid out what was on my heart in regards to the George Floyd murder, Ahmaud Arbery, the years and years of social injustice, police brutality and the need for so much reform and change in regards to legislation and so many other things to bring equality to our Black communities.”
“I am sorry and I will do better and I will be part of the solution and I am your ally.”