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Trump says Drew Brees shouldn't have retracted statement on kneeling in protest

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE said News Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees should not have apologized for statements he made hammering players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality in the United States. 

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high,” Trump tweeted.

“We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag - NO KNEELING!” he continued.

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The tweets came after Brees argued during an interview with Yahoo Finance that anyone kneeling was “disrespecting the flag.” 

“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 Corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place,” he said.

The comments were met with swift pushback, with critics saying they appeared tone deaf in the face of national protests against the killing of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis. 

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Brees later said he “would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt,” adding his remarks were “insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now.”

“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. 

Trump, who is currently facing criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the national demonstrations and a staggering economy, has long railed against athletes who kneel during the national anthem.

The gesture was first started by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to demonstrate against police brutality and systemic racism, but Trump has said the National Football League should fire players who join the protest.