Drew Brees drew mass amounts of criticism Wednesday after telling Yahoo Finance he, "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," when asked his thoughts about players kneeling during the national anthem.
On Thursday morning, Brees took to Instagram to issue an apology.
"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 wrote. "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," he said. "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."
Professional athletes from all over condemned Brees' comments amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd. From DMV stars like Ed Reed and Mark Ingram to Saints teammates Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Malcolm Jenkins, the outrage over Brees' comments was vast.
In a lengthy apology, Brees took responsibility for his comments and acknowledged he must do more to help the fight for equality.
"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," Brees continued. "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," he said. "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."
Brees extended his contract with the Saints in March's free-agent period by agreeing to a two-year, $50 million deal. 2020 will mark his 20th season in the NFL.
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