Cam Jordan couldn't believe what he was hearing. He has considered Drew Brees a friend and a brother ever since he was drafted in 2011 and became teammates with the star quarterback.
Jordan, a defensive end for the New Orleans Saints, attended a packed Black Lives Matter rally at Duncan Plaza in New Orleans on Wednesday, the same day Brees said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country" by kneeling during the national anthem in the wake of George Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis, being killed in police custody.
After watching what Brees said, Jordan called his teammate to try to get him to understand the peaceful protest four years after Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest racial injustices and police brutality when he was a member of the 49ers in 2016.
"I feel like I gave him my perspective -- it was almost like I was trying to force him to walk a mile in my shoes -- and I hope it gets through," Jordan told NFL.com Wednesday night. "I hope it gets through to my guy Drew, because that's what he is ... he's been my guy since I entered the league (in 2011).
"He's been the leader and a guy I can rely on -- on the field. Well, off the field has to align. I can't allow people to tippy-toe on the line of this issue. You can't play both sides on this one. We're fighting to end social injustice, and you're either with us or you aren't."
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Jordan, who attended Cal in college and is a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end, wasn't the only NFL player to show disappointment and anger in Bress' comments or even the only Saints teammate to do so. Safety Malcolm Jenkins and star receiver Michael Thomas let their feelings be known on Twitter as well.
Brees apologized for his insensitive comments Thursday morning, but it's clear his initial words will carry over to the locker room.
"I mean, of course it will," Jordan said. "In our locker room, we hold people accountable. I've already talked to 10 to 12 teammates, and a coach or two, and with the man himself (Brees). You have to put him legitimately in our shoes, and at the same time, I don't want to force feed him. I want to walk in his shoes, too.
"[The national anthem] is a source of pride for him. But he has to know what that act is all about, and what it really represents."
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Jordan wants Brees to understand one thing: Kneeling never was about disrespecting the flag or the military. There's a reson why Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret, gave Kaepernick the green light to kneel.
"I understand that Drew has military ties, and he went on to explain that [in our conversation], but the first nine words ('I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag') are the most hurtful," Jordan said. "He's creating the emotional illusion that everyone who takes a knee is disrespecting the flag, when we've spent years trying to explain what the protest is really about.
"This flag is supposed to protect all of us. I support the military, too -- I've done multiple USO Tours. My grandfather was in the Army and later served as the first black highway patrolman in Phoenix. My uncle was in the Navy. And my wife's dad was in the Marines.
"I know Drew is a phenomenal person. I know he gives back to the community. I know what's in his heart and how he pours out his heart. But maybe I didn't get clear enough about what the movement meant in 2017, when we all knelt in unison in London."