NFL Star Drew Brees Apologizes for ‘Insensitive’ Comments About Kneeling Protests

Drew Brees has apologized for criticizing NFL players who choose to kneel during the national anthem at football games in protest of police brutality.

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“It breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” the New Orleans Saints quarterback, 41, wrote via Instagram on Thursday, June 4. “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.”

One day earlier, the athlete shared his thoughts on how the NFL should react if players kneel in protest of racial inequality during the national anthem. Colin Kaepernick was the first athlete who took a knee in 2016 before becoming a free agent one year later.

Drew Brees Apologizes for 'Insensitive' Comments About Kneeling Protests After Backlash
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees speaks during a ceremony in Washington, DC on January 15, 2020. SAMUEL CORUM/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees explained in an interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, June 3. “Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played … I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make this country and our world a better place.”

The Texas native immediately faced backlash for his remarks from his fellow athletes — including from his own teammate Michael Thomas.

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“We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that,” the New Orleans Saints wide receiver, 27, tweeted on Wednesday. “He don’t know no better.”

Aaron Rodgers also slammed Brees’ comments when he shared a photo of himself locking arms with his teammates via Instagram on Wednesday.

“A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback, 36, captioned the picture. “It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action.”

LeBron James — who has been an avid supporter of taking a knee during the national anthem — also added his two cents on Wednesday.

“WOW MAN!! 🤦🏾‍♂️,” the NBA player, 35, tweeted. “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 men who fought as well for this country.”

However, Brees had some athletes in his corner, including New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport and retired NFL player Joe Horn.

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“Drew wasn’t talking about the current protest, the riots or really anything besides HIS feelings on kneeling during the National Anthem,” Davenport, 23, wrote via Twitter. “He even explained what they were, the basis and that he actually stands with us. Do we have to entirely agree with him, no.”

Horn, 48, told The Athletic that he didn’t approve of people chiming in with their opinions and “labeling [Brees] a racist.”

“People that are criticizing him like LeBron James and other celebrities don’t know him. They need to check his resume,” he said.

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