Drew Brees outed himself Wednesday. Told us he’s not listening. That he’s committed to being part of America’s conspicuous problem instead of aligning with those seeking a solution.
Even after all we’ve witnessed in recent days, the Saints’ superstar quarterback still can’t accept someone kneeling before the flag, or during the national anthem, in pursuit of justice.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America, or our country,” Brees told Yahoo Finance.
This is it’s not much of a surprise to anyone who heard Brees speak on social issues. Still, it is profoundly disappointing that one of the NFL’s superstar quarterbacks, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can fail so epically in the face of such graphic evidence of injustice.
Brees tried to explain his position by saying his two grandfathers fought in World War II, putting their lives at stake for a better America.
“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,” he said. “And in many cases, it brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed, not just those in the military. For that matter, those in the civil rights movements of the ‘60s. And all that has been endured by so many people up in until this point.”
Those who might have thought Brees more perceptive than his comment indicates now know better. Those who assumed he might be among those who have experienced some sort of racial awakening in the wake of the George Floyd murder, slapping him into the plight of those unlike him, now realize that it’s not there.
And it’s not coming – because, again, he is not listening.
Colin Kaepernick’s decision to peacefully protest by kneeling during the national anthem was never about the military. Kap actually consulted with Nate Boyer, a retired member of the Green Beret, who concluded kneeling would be the most elegant and least disruptive form of protest.
Does Drew not know this?
Or does he not care?
Many of us, including myself, have relatives that have served in the military. My father and my mother and my brother are buried in a national cemetery. Yet their service to their country did not insulate them from the racism that results in unwarranted detainment, unlawful arrests, being victimized by a discriminatory banking system and steered to specific neighborhoods when shopping for a home.
Not to mention the constant potential of police brutality, which was at the core of Kaepernick’s protest as well as the outrage that has spread around the globe.
“Is everything right with our country right now? No. It’s not,” Brees conceded. “We still have a long way to go.
“But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag, with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better, and that we are all part of the solution.”
That last line is the most accurate in Drew’s statement. We can do better, and we must all be part of the solution. But those words ring hollow in the full context of what he had to say.
Brees is a wealthy white man. So maybe, deep down, he sees the quest for justice something best left to others. How else can such ignorant comments be interpreted?