06/04 08:50 CDT Brees says he 'completely missed the mark' in flag comments
Brees says he 'completely missed the mark' in flag comments
NEW ORLEANS (AP) --- Drew Brees apologized Thursday for comments that were
"insensitive and completely missed the mark" when he reiterated his opposition
to Colin Kaepernick's kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, drawing
sharp criticism from fellow high-profile athletes and others in the wake of
George Floyd's death.
Los Angeles Lakers great LeBron James, New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm
Jenkins and former NFL player Martellus Bennett were just some of the
high-profile athletes to criticize Brees on their Twitter feeds.
Brees, a New Orleans Saints quarterback who won the Super Bowl in the 2009
season, was asked Wednesday in an interview with Yahoo to revisit former NFL
quarterback Kaepernick's kneeling during the national anthem before games to
bring awareness of police brutality and racial injustice.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States,"
Brees began, adding that the national anthem reminds him of his grandfathers,
who served in the armed forces during World War II. "In many cases, it brings
me to tears thinking about all that has been sacrificed, and not just in the
military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of
the '60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point."
Many athletes have repeatedly said the kneeling was not about disrespecting the
flag or the military but instead about police brutality.
Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder in the killing of
Floyd, a Minneapolis black man who was handcuffed as the officer pressed a knee
on Floyd's neck for several minutes.
In an Instagram post Thursday, Brees said he was apologizing to his friends,
teammates, New Orleans, the black community, the NFL community and "anyone I
hurt with my comments yesterday."
"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 wrote. "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."
Kaepernick hasn't yet responded to the initial comments by Brees, but he did
retweet a post by Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma before Brees' apology.
"This shows you that there are a lot of people & companies out there right now
that will say they stand with us but only do it so they dont get bashed not
because they mean it," Kuzma wrote above a photo of Brees kneeling alongside
teammates before an NFL game.
Brees has previously said he supports those against police brutality but he
does not see the national anthem as the proper forum. In 2017, he participated
with teammates who knelt before the national anthem but then stood in unison
when the anthem was played.
James, who has been a leader in the social justice movement, said Wednesday he
couldn't believe Brees was still confused about what Kaepernick was trying to
"WOW MAN!!" James wrote on Twitter. "Is it still surprising at this point. Sure
isn't! You literally still don't understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee??
Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of (American flag emoji) and our
soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of
Bennett, who won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and retired in
2018, posted a long thread saying none of the white quarterbacks in the league
have spoken out when it wasn't easy to do so.
"And y'all wanna applaud them for these statements, when y'all crucified every
athlete that said something by protesting in the beginning," Bennett wrote.
"Look (I'm) happy they're saying something.. but when they had a chance to make
a big play for their black teammates and colleagues most of em remained silent,
showed ignorance or didn't say anything of importance when it was really
Jenkins, who was Brees' teammate when the Saints won the Super Bowl, spent the
past six seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before returning to New Orleans
this offseason. He posted a video of himself on Twitter speaking to his
"Drew Brees, if you don't understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments
are, you are part of the problem," Jenkins said. "To think that because your
grandfathers served in this country that you have a great respect for the flag
that everybody else should have the same ideals and thoughts that you do is
"And it shows that you don't know history. Because when our grandfathers fought
for this country and served, they came back ... they didn't come back to a
hero's welcome. They came back and got attacked for wearing their uniforms.
They came back to racism. To complete violence."
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