New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote a response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of Brees’ apologies after the 19-year NFL veteran initially said that he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America” in response to a question regarding kneeling protests during the national anthem.
“To @realdonaldtrump. Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag,” Brees wrote. “It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.”
Trump provided his remarks in a pair of tweets Friday:
Brees said the following to Daniel Roberts of Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, in part:
“So every time I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about…thinking about all that has been sacrificed, not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movement of the 60s. “And all that has been endured by so many people. And is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better, and we are all part of the solution.”
Brees soon offered a pair of apologies on social media following a torrent of criticism that included comments from his own teammates.
They included video comments from safety Malcolm Jenkins, who said the following (h/t Jason Owens of Yahoo Sports):
“Our communities are under siege, and we need help. And what you’re telling us is don’t ask for help that way. Ask a different way. I can’t listen to it when you ask that way. “We’re done asking, Drew. People who share your sentiments, who express those and push them throughout the world, the airwaves – are the problem. 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. But sometimes, you should shut the f–k up.”
Brees initially issued his first apology Thursday.
“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,” Brees said in part.
Some found Brees’ first apology missed the mark, and that included ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, who said the Saints quarterback’s comments didn’t properly address the issue of people questioning the patriotism of players who kneeled in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem.
Brees then offered a video apology Thursday.
“I’m sorry it has taken this long to act and to participate in a meaningful way but I am your ally in this fight,” Brees wrote in his Instagram caption.
Numerous people accepted Brees’ apologies, including teammates Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Demario Davis, per TMZ Sports.
The issue picked back up with Trump’s tweets Friday, leading to Brees’ response, which has received overwhelmingly positive remarks from analysts and retweets from his teammates.
Brees and the Saints are scheduled to take the field Sunday, Sept. 13 at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to begin the 2020 regular season.