Several members of the New Orleans Saints took star quarterback Drew Brees to task this week for comments that failed to display understanding of Colin Kaepernick’s protest of kneeling during the national anthem. From there, a firestorm emerged with LeBron James calling Brees out and FOX Sports personality Shannon Sharpe going as far as to say that Brees “should probably retire” following his comments.
After the initial and deeply negative reaction, Brees offered a public apology and later apologized to his Saints teammates for what he said. On Thursday evening, an interesting wrinkle came to light during TNT’s special edition of Inside The NBA, with Shaquille O’Neal revealing that he was actually present, at least virtually, when Brees addressed the team.
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O’Neal, who indicated that he was scheduled to speak to the team on Thursday well before the controversy, went on to describe the events, albeit in limited detail.
“Most of his teammates accepted his apology,” O’Neal said. “They said, ‘Drew, we know your character. We know you stepped in some stuff that you can’t get out of but, guess what, we want you to do more positive things and less talking.’ And they all said ‘we accept your apology.’ I agree with Chuck. He made a mistake.”
Saints running back Alvin Kamara was among a number of players that discussed things with Brees and, since then, Kamara went on to describe his personal experiences with racism on Thursday. While Brees’ apology certainly did not appease everyone or evaporate the negative sentiment toward his initial comments, some statement of contrition was immediately necessary, and in another example, Saints star wide receiver Michael Thomas revealed he accepted Brees’ apology despite disagreeing with his original statement.
It will be interesting to monitor the ongoing sentiment toward Brees, as even the TNT panel was split to some degree, with O’Neal and Charles Barkley on one side and Kenny Smith still channeling a more negative reaction to Brees’ comments. Still, it was quite something to consider that, by apparent coincidence, one of the biggest names in basketball just happened to be within earshot when a prominent football player apologized for a high-profile misstep.