Drew Brees has come under intense criticism since offering his first public comments on Wednesday in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
During the interview with Yahoo! Finance, the New Orleans Saints quarterback mischaracterized the protests of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players as “disrespecting the flag.”
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said. "Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played, and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place."
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.”— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 3, 2020
Full exchange: pic.twitter.com/MpCkFyOMed
The star quarterback’s comments drew a sharp rebuke on social media from many of his Saints teammates including Malcolm Jenkins and Demario Davis, who are among leaders of the players coalition seeking social justice and racial equality.
Brees’ stance startled many current and former Seattle Seahawks players, including outspoken wide receiver Doug Baldwin who called Brees part of the problem.
.@drewbrees the reason my children have to live in a world that won’t empathize with their pain is because people like you are raising your children to perpetuate the cycle. Drew, you are the problem.— Douglas Baldwin Jr 🧢 (@DougBaldwinJr) June 3, 2020
Former Legion of Boom enforcer Kam Chancellor responded to a post from a fan that encouraged him to return for one game to “drop the hammer” and light Brees up.
Chancellor’s response: “That would be a nasty scene.”
That would be a nasty scene 🔨🔨🔨 https://t.co/LJAsNu9wGZ— Kameron Chancellor (@KamChancellor) June 3, 2020
Richard Sherman, who played for the Seahawks from 2011-17 before joining the San Francisco 49ers, called Brees “beyond lost” with his remarks about kneeling in the NFL.
He’s beyond lost. Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn’t seem to be about that. That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem https://t.co/ON81UsOWPw pic.twitter.com/HH3EVTIH8p— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) June 3, 2020
Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett quote tweeted a video regarding how Fox News host Laura Ingraham responded to LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s ‘freedom’ of speech, which blasted President of the United States Donald Trump, and Drew Brees’ comments about taking a knee during the anthem.
How can you say all this bad stuff about Lebron and KD. But then you go against what you say when it comes to Drew brees https://t.co/z7mPBftEJ7— Tyler Lockett (@TDLockett12) June 4, 2020
Second-year wide receiver DK Metcalf shared this post following Brees' apology on social media.
Don’t apologize after people get on your ass‼️ pic.twitter.com/mb6tCFftyJ— DK Metcalf (@dkm14) June 4, 2020
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has long idolized Brees for paving way for shorter quarterbacks in the NFL. During last year’s Pro Bowl, upon Brees retirement rumors, Wilson gave up his starting spot to the future Hall of Famer.
When speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Wilson said he hadn’t yet gotten the opportunity to see Brees’ full comments on taking a knee the anthem. He did say, however, that he believes former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was trying to do the right thing.
I was in meetings. I just got out of meetings. I didn’t get to watch the whole thing. The reality is, Colin was trying to symbolize the oppression that was going on in America, that has been going on for 400 years. And I think people go into a box of, ‘OK, this person is this, and that person is that, because they didn’t do this, or they didn’t do that. The reality is what Colin was trying to do was sit down and do the right thing and try to stand up, figuratively, for what is going on in America.
It’s heavy on me. ...Colin, for me, he was trying to symbolize the right thing. People may have taken that the wrong way, but he was trying to do the right thing, the bottom line. And he stood up in so many amazing ways to really stand up for black lives and what is going on, and the oppression that is going on. ...I think it is the right thing is that he has been trying to do.
Brees has issued an apology for his comments. You can read the full statement below.
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.