Saints quarterback Drew Brees took to social media Thursday morning and issued an apology for saying that he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” by kneeling during the national anthem.
Brees’ comments drew a severe and prolonged backlash from athletes on his own team, and even superstars in other sports such as LeBron James.
Brees wrote that he “would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt.”
“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 wrote.
“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.”
In an interview with Yahoo Finance the day before, Brees said: “Let me just tell what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place,” he said.
“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. And in many cases, that brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed,” he explained.
Among the many athletes and media who attacked Brees, was LeBron James, who expressed shock that the quarterback wouldn’t understand why players would kneel during the anthem.
“WOW MAN!!” James tweeted, with a facepalm emoji. “Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of [the flag] 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. I asked him question about it and thank him all the time for his commitment. He never found Kap peaceful protest offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong!”
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