Drew Brees issues lengthy apology for 'insensitive' remarks lacking 'awareness'
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News Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees issued a lengthy apology on Thursday morning after drawing a furious backlash from teammates and stars in other sports over his comments criticizing people who kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence and call for racial justice.

The remarks from Brees, who argued anyone kneeling was disrespecting the flag, were widely criticized as completely tone-deaf amid national demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. 

In an Instagram post, 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” with the comments he made in an interview with Yahoo Finance the day before.

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“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,” he continued. 

He went on to write that he stands with “the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality” and backs “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.”

Brees also wrote that he was “sick about the way” his comments were perceived the day before but added he takes “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,” he added.

A day before, asked what he would think if NFL players continue protesting when the season resumes, Brees said he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

“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 said. 

Brees's comments immediately drew backlash online and prompted criticism from a number of current and former professional athletes, including among some from on his own team.

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Malcolm Jenkins, a safety for the Saints, knocked Brees in video responding to his comments on social media Wednesday, saying: “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.”

Michael Thomas, a wide receiver for the team, also called out his team over the comments.

“He don’t know no better,” Thomas tweeted Wednesday. “We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.”