After receiving backlash for his comments regarding players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem Wednesday, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologized Thursday on Instagram.
During an interview Wednesday with Yahoo Finance that comes amid recent protests brought about by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, Brees stood firm to his position that kneeling during the national anthem constitutes disrespect to both the American flag and the United States, an issue that has received renewed attention in the wake of widespread protests over police killings of black Americans.
He has now apologized.
“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 on Instagram Thursday, part of a longer message.
See Brees’ statement here:
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.
The statement ends with the future Hall of Fame quarterback asking for forgiveness.
“I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability,” he wrote. “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.”
Brees, when asked during the interview about kneeling during the anthem, mentioned his grandfather’s service in the military.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said in the interview. “When seeing the flag during the anthem, 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 and to try to make our country and this world a better place.
“So every time I stand with my hand over my heart looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about. And in many cases, it brings me to tears thinking about all that has been sacrificed.”
The interview question stemmed from the belief that the NFL will see more players protesting police brutality and systemic racism in 2020 during the anthem.
Brees’ comments drew significant backlash on social media and his name as well as “Damn Drew” became trending topics on Twitter.
Several players in the NFL and NBA openly took issue with Brees’ stance, including LeBron James, Pelicans forward Josh Hart, former LSU-turned-Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, Patriots defensive backs Jason and Devin McCourty, former LSU-turned-Jets safety Jamal Adams, Eagles cornerback Darius Slay, Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, former Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin and others.
The comments were also criticized by Brees’ current and former teammates including Michael Thomas and Malcolm Jenkins, who posted an emotional video in response.
-The New Orleans Advocate