Drew Brees Apologizes for Comments About the Flag: 'I Completely Missed the Mark'
One day after making insensitive comments about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is attempting to make amends.
In an Instagram post on Thursday morning, Brees apologized for what he said in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance, where he stated that he would “never disagree with anybody disrespecting the [American] flag” by kneeling before kickoff.
“I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the city of New Orleans, the black community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday,” he wrote. “In an attempt to talk about respect, unity and solidarity… 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.”
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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.
“Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and misled people into believing I am somehow the enemy,” the quarterback continued. “This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.”
Brees also addressed the continued oppression that the black community faces, and that there needs to be a fight for equality and gain a better understanding of the struggles they go through to gain equal rights. “I will never know what it’s like to be a black man in America,” he said, “but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right.”
The quarterback ended his apology by saying that he takes full responsibility for his words and needs to be more accountable for his actions. “I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening… when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.”
It should also be noted, though, that Brees’ statement doesn’t acknowledge, at a micro level, why he’s apologizing, or what the issue with what he said was. “I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday,” he says, implying that the problem lies more in the way that others chose to read his words, rather than the words and intent behind them in itself.
After Brees’ ‘flag’ comments—began to go viral, members of the sports community—including fellow NFL superstars—quickly condemned him over social media for how insensitive his comments were to the black community not only in general, but particularly at this moment in the aftermath of the senseless killing of George Floyd, amidst nationwide protests and unease.
Among those to chime in: LeBron James, Richard Sherman, and Kyle Kuzma (who’s message was retweeted by Colin Kaepernick himself)
WOW MAN!! 🤦🏾♂️. 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 🇺🇸 and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those https://t.co/pvUWPmh4s8
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
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. pic.twitter.com/DB3wF4JdKB
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Saints defensive back (and teammate) Malcolm Jenkins was particularly offended by Brees’ words, saying in an emotional IGTV video that Brees’ comments not only hurt him, but made the quarterback look extremely self-centered.
“Our communities are under siege, and we need help,” Jenkins said. “And what you’re telling us is don’t ask for help that way. Ask for it a different way. I can’t listen to it when you ask that way. We’re done asking, Drew. And people who share your sentiments, who express those and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are the problem.”
Michael Thomas, another teammate of Brees’ and perhaps the best wide receiver in the NFL, responded to Brees’ comments simply enough: an ‘about-to-vomit’ emoji.
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