In the wake of the widespread protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody, New Orleans Saints quarterback was asked if he now would support NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism.
Instead of understanding why former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick initially took a knee and choosing to use his platform to further the march toward equality, Brees said he still would feel like that is "disrespecting the flag." His response drew criticism from a number of NFL players, including Brees' teammate, Michael Thomas.
Following Brees' comments, former 49ers defensive lineman and NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Ian Williams went on Instagram Live to voice his disgust with Brees' answer and stance as it pertains to Kaepernick's' peaceful protest and the fight to end police brutality and systemic racism.
Some thoughts. https://t.co/VV34gEe839— Ian Williams (@IWilliams95) June 3, 2020
"Drew, really bro? Really?" Williams said. "You stand behind offensive linemen -- you’ve made a career off of standing behind, handing the ball off, throwing the ball to your black teammates. You’ve had years. Kap kneeled in 2016, you’ve had years to think about how you would answer this very question that you were asked by that guy in the interview that you did. You’ve had years to think about this. You see what’s going on right now. And that's still your answer? You want to hide behind the flag and hide behind your family members who fought for the very right to be able to protest. And this is your answer? You want to hide behind that? Really, man? I respected the hell out of you. I loved playing against you. I loved scheming against you. I loved watching your footwork in the offense, how you commanded the offense, how you got the offense from point A to point B, how you helped a city, how you came out of Purdue and have done everything that you’ve done.
"You’re a Hall of Famer, bro. But none of that would have been possible without your black teammates around, man. None of it. You think all those yards that you threw for, you threw the ball and it stopped right then? Yards after catch, guys blocking for you, guys picking up a protection for you, Alvin Kamara picking up a blitz for you so that you don’t get creamed and get a concussion. Mark Ingram out there. Really? How tone deaf do you have to be for this to be your answer in 2020. It’s sickening and it’s sad to know that bro, this is how you think. You going to hide behind that and deflect every question that’s thrown at you. Bro, you did it. You alienated a lot of people who loved you. They still love you but you’ve alienated them man. Come on bro.
"Talking about, we all in this together. Like bro, you ain’t all in this together. You’re not. And then you want to post a picture and talk about Black Lives Matter. You are the person, I posted yesterday, don’t post a black picture if this is how you feel or how you felt. Damn, Drew. Do you know that your black teammates are going to see this and read about this? Do you think they want to fight the extra mile, fight to hold that defensive lineman that extra little bit for you to get that ball off? You think they want to fight for you now? You won’t even fight for them when their lives depend on it. They are fighting for you for a paycheck and a game. You expect for them to fight for you when you won’t even fight for their lives, for their children’s lives. You got kids. I’m sure your kids have played with Cameron Jordan’s kids and other kids of black teammates and this is your response to help protect those kids that your kids play with? Disrespecting the flag. Bro, how many times do people have to tell you … Kap kneeling had nothing to do with the flag. "
Williams repeated that message for 20 seconds to try to get the point across to Brees before continuing.
"Do I need to keep saying it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over? Listen! Come on! People are out here dying in the streets and you want to talk about a flag and hide behind a flag, Drew? Your black teammates can be taken and killed for no reason, but you want to hide behind a flag. Your teammates have been fighting for you, every inch for you to stay up in that pocket, for you to deliver that ball to Michael Thomas, throw that ball to Alvin Kamara, throw that ball to Taysom Hill. But you can’t stand up for them in a time like right now?
"You see what’s going on Drew. You ain’t dumb, you’re not stupid, you’re not ignorant. I know you’re not. I see it in your eyes when you’re preparing, when you’re reading the defense, when you come on camera and talk about your experience with how you defeated a team, how you precisely tore them apart. But you’re telling me you can’t be precise thinking about your response to a question that you know is going to get back to your teammates. You’re too smart for this. You’re not ignorant. If I feel like this you think your teammates don’t feel like this? They out here watching people of color getting killed and brutalized and thrown around for no god damn reason, excuse my language. You got people out here who don’t look like us taking bullets, getting sniped on national television. They not coming back from that Drew. People out here getting shot with tasers and rubber bullets and flash grenades."
Williams finished his video by explaining how important Brees using his platform can be in furthering the cause to end systemic racism and police brutality.
"You have the platform to speak out and show support of not just people who look like you but everybody. Everybody that your family fought for. You talked about your father and your grandad and people who fought in the wars. They fought for freedom, right? They fought for what’s right, right? They fought for the very right to be able to protest peacefully. I’m going to say it one more time. They fought for people to protest peacefully. Last I checked, taking a knee -- at first taking a seat, then speaking to a Green Beret, then taking a knee – how peaceful can that be? Or how peaceful was that? It was very peaceful. I’m going to leave you with a question Drew and I hope it gets back to you: How should Colin Kaepernick have protested? Please, can you answer that? How should he have protested? That’s it, man. I hope this gets to you. I hope you see this. I hope people see this. I’m tired of seeing people who misconstrue and twist Kap’s words.
"When I first saw Kap -- I’ll be honest, when I first saw Kap kneel, I felt the same way Drew Brees feels right now. But that was in that exact moment of seeing him do it. I didn’t know what he was doing. I didn’t know. But once he started to talk I listened. I’m going to say that again: Once he talked I listened. I didn’t just hear him, I didn’t just see him. I listened. There’s a difference between hearing and listening. I hear you. My daughter hears me when I say don’t do that. But does she listen? She didn’t because she did it again. It didn’t sink it.
“We’re not trying to win. We’re just trying to co-exist, live our lives like everybody else does in this country. Because it’s a great country. The country has gotten better. I can go into a store and not have milk or other items thrown at me or be told to go around back we don’t serve your kind here. It’s a better country. But it could be better and it’s people like you Drew Brees who could help this country be better. You helped a city after Katrina. You’ve done a lot for that city. Now can you do a lot for the black community and the black teammates that you call your friends and your teammates and your loved ones? You can’t look them in the eye anymore and tell them, 'I love you. I appreciate y'all for going out and battling with me on the field. I care about y’all.'
"If this is what you really think ... wake up, bro. I thought you was woke as hell. Wake up.”