LeBron James, Malcolm Jenkins and Michael Thomas are among a growing list of athletes criticizing Drew Brees for saying in a recent interview that he still does not support NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality, even as widespread protests continue in the nation sparked by the death of George Floyd.
James reacted to Brees's comments in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, writing, “WOW MAN!! 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,” he continued. “I asked him questions about it and thank him all the time for his commitment.”
He went on to say that his father-in-law “never found” former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protests “offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong! God bless you.”
WOW MAN!! ♂️. 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 and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those https://t.co/pvUWPmh4s8— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem during the 2016 season to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Though a number of players in the league joined him in the protests, Kaepernick was often targeted as the face of the protest movement by President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE and other conservative who labeled his demonstrations unpatriotic. Kaepernick, who remains a free agent, has not had a job in the league since that season.
The debate around the kneeling protests during the national anthem has reignited online following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after a white officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis.
When pressed about his thoughts, given Floyd’s death, on NFL players resuming the kneeling protests once the season picks back up amid the coronavirus pandemic, Brees said this week that he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
“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 told Yahoo Finance.
Thomas, a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, the team for which Brees plays quarterback, knocked the player over the remarks on Twitter on Wednesday.
“He don’t know no better,” Thomas wrote. “We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.”
He don’t know no better.— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 3, 2020
We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 3, 2020
Richard Sherman, a cornerback for the 49ers, said Brees was “beyond lost.”
“Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn’t seem to be about that,” he said. “That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem.”
He’s beyond lost. Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn’t seem to be about that. That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem https://t.co/ON81UsOWPw pic.twitter.com/HH3EVTIH8p— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) June 3, 2020
Tyrann Mathieu, a safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, also called out Brees on Twitter, writing, “@drewbrees SMH. You represent New Orleans Louisiana. Don’t ever forget that!”
I’m sorry I didn’t stand taller with you. I’m sorry man! https://t.co/uWYjTxh4bm— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) June 3, 2020
Jenkins, a safety for the Saints, scolded his teammate in a video on social media Wednesday in which he said, “Drew Brees, if you don’t understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments are, you are part of the problem.”
“To think that because your grandfathers served in this country and you have a great respect for the flag that everybody else should have the same ideals and thoughts that you do is ridiculous,” he continued. “And it shows that you don’t know history. Because when our grandfathers fought for this country and served and they came back, they didn’t come back to a hero’s welcome. They came back and got attacked for wearing their uniforms. They came back to people, to racism, to complete violence.”
View this post on Instagram
As I was trying to muster up the energy and find the words to address Drew Brees’s comments I recorded this video. Before I could post it, Drew reached out to me to discuss his point of view. All in all, I’m still posting this video because it’s important for anyone who wants to consider themself an ally to know how these words and actions affect those who you want to help. Drew’s words during his interview were extremely painful to hear and I hope he rectifies them with real action.
A post shared by Malcolm Jenkins (@malcolmjenkins27) onADVERTISEMENT
A growing list of former and current professional athletes have chimed in on Brees’s controversial remarks.
“You a sucka for that”— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 4, 2020
Ed Reed doesn’t hold back on Drew Brees’ comments about kneeling during the anthem pic.twitter.com/C5crcUUcAH
How can you be in the locker rooms, speaking to the players, know the reasoning, and yet still be dumb enough to believe it’s about the flag. Like HOW???? He should know better than that. He just doesn’t care. Damn man not Drew...— Damon Harrison Sr. (@snacks) June 3, 2020
Never was about disrespecting the armed forces. It’s about police brutality and racial injustices in our country. This country can’t be unified if African Americans are unjustly killed in the street because of the color of their skin https://t.co/BzRZgkOYnU— Josh Hart (@joshhart) June 3, 2020
This is a disgrace! To speak about your grandfathers as if there weren’t black men fighting next to them.Those men later returned to a country that hated them. Don’t avoid the issue and try to make it about a flag or the military. Fight like your grandfathers for whats right! https://t.co/qag3Igic3V— Devin&Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) June 3, 2020
Dammit Drew...— Jamal Adams (@Prez) June 3, 2020