Sports

Drew Brees Apologized For His Comments About Protesting And The American Flag

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees stirred up controversy on Wednesday when he gave comments to Yahoo! about Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who would take a knee during the national anthem to protest systemic oppression, police brutality, and injustice in America. Brees, as has long been his stance, stated that he believes that kneeling is disrespecting the flag and what it represents, mentioning the fact that both of his grandfathers fought in World War II.

In light of the demonstrations across the United States in response to the circumstances surrounding the killing of George Floyd, Brees’ comments came off as remarkably off-base, earning him condemnation from teammates and individuals across the world of sports, with folks like LeBron James and Aaron Rodgers chiming in. It is exceedingly rare to see athletes call out another athlete, let alone one as high-profile as Brees, and as a result, he offered up a statement in response on Thursday morning.

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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.

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Here is what Brees wrote:

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.

There is, of course, a certain amount of cynicism that can come in response to this, particularly due to the fact that Brees says the thing that makes him sick is “the way my comments were perceived,” the fact that he’s publicly held this stance on protests and the American flag for years, and, as some Twitter users have pointed out, the use of a stock image. Having said that, Brees did apologize, and hopefully he is sincere in his commitment to listening and being an active, engaged ally in fighting the things Kaepernick attempted to bring into the discourse years ago.

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