Drew Brees apologized on Thursday morning for his recent comments about players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
Brees, the longtime New Orleans Saints quarterback, posted his apology on Instagram, and indicated that he’d spoken to several people about how his comments made them feel and the pain his words had caused them.
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.
Brees did an interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday during which he was asked how the NFL should react if players start kneeling in protest during the national anthem, as Colin Kaepernick did in 2016.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America,” Brees said. He also compared the sacrifice of people who served in the military to the sacrifices of people who fought for civil rights.
Brees’ comments sparked an intense reaction from fans, fellow athletes, and especially other NFL players — including his own teammates. Many called him out for failing to understand the significance of peaceful protests, especially at a time when people across the country are protesting against police brutality and systemic racism in response to the brutal death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
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