New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees publicly apologized for “insensitive” comments he made about NFL players protesting during the national anthem.
In lengthy apology posted on Instagram Thursday morning, Brees said he stands with the black community and wants to be a leader for change. “I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability,” he wrote.
Brees, the NFL’s all-time passing leader and 13-time Pro Bowler, drew massive backlash from the sports world on Wednesday after he told Yahoo! Finance that he wouldn’t be okay with protesting racial injustice and police brutality if it meant disrespecting the flag, arguing that standing during the anthem signified the country’s unity and represented what civil rights leaders have fought for off the field.
View this post on Instagram
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.
“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 Thursday. ”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.”
A plethora of sports figures, including Aaron Rodgers and LeBron James, condemned Brees’ comments. Brees’ teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, said Wednesday of Brees: ”If you don’t understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments are, you’re part of the problem.”
“It breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees wrote Thursday.
I recorded a few videos when thinking of how to respond to Drew Brees, I don’t take any of it back-I meant what I said-I removed the 1st video because I knew it be more about the headlines. I want people to understand how those of us struggling with what’s going on feel pic.twitter.com/T054qt0YEz— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) June 3, 2020
Brees said in his initial comments on Wednesday to Yahoo! Finance: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. Is everything right with our country right now? No, it is 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 that we are all part of the solution.”
Saints linebacker Demario Davis told CNN Thursday he found Brees’ apology sincere and influential for how other people should handle missteps.
“For him to admit that he was wrong and say you know what I can do better, and I will do better, I think that is leadership at its finest,” Davis said. “It’s not easy to come out and admit when you’re wrong. For him to do that I think that’s very symbolic of America, especially all of the ethnic groups that aren’t people of color or black people, in understanding it’s OK, you might have got it wrong, but don’t get it wrong now. That’s where we need to be as a country.”
Read more at usatoday.com