Saints quarterback Drew Brees is apologizing after being criticized heavily Thursday by other athletes, even some of his own teammates, for comments saying he is against kneeling during the national anthem during an interview.
During an interview with Yahoo, Brees was asked about former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States,” Brees said. “In many cases, it brings me to tears thinking about all that has been sacrificed, and not just in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.”
Brees added the anthem reminds him of his two grandfathers that served in World War II.
Many major athletes have since responded to Brees’ statements, including Los Angeles Laker LeBron James, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins and former Baltimore Raven Ed Reed.
After tons of criticism, Brees took to Instagram to apologize:
“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.”