CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees has come forward with an apology after receiving backlash from his own teammates, the sports community, and beyond in the wake of the George Floyd protests for his position on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
Yahoo Finance asked the future Hall of Famer on Wednesday what he thought about NFL players protesting police brutality during the upcoming season by kneeling during the national anthem.
He responded with, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Brees’ own teammate, S Malcom Jenkins, spoke out against the quarterback’s statements from the interview, calling them, “extremely painful to hear.”
“And it’s unfortunate because I considered you a friend. I looked up to you. You’re somebody who I had a great deal of respect for," Jenkins said.
WARNING: Jenkins’ post contains graphic language.
Fellow NFL QB Jordan Rogers indirectly responded with an Instagram picture of him locking arms with his own Green Bay Packers teammates during the national anthem, saying:
“A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game. It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action. #wakeupamerica #itstimeforchange#loveoverfear❤️ #solidarity#libertyandjusticeforall #all”
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman called Brees “beyond lost” on the topic, saying he is trying to avoid “that uncomfortable conversation" by “injecting military into a conversation about police brutality and equality is part of the problem.”
LeBron James also tweeted out his disapproval of Brees’ message, saying Kapernick’s protest “had nothing do do with the disrespect of the American Flag and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free.”
James also pointed out that his own father-in-law fought for our country, and “be never found Kap[pernick’s] peaceful protest offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong!”
On Thursday morning, Brees responded to the backlash on his Instagram with the following statement:
"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."