Drew Brees Ripped by Teammates and LeBron James for Anthem Remarks

The 41-year-old quarterback was forced to apologize for his tone-deaf comments

Drew Brees Addresses His Future in New Orleans
Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints during a 2019 preseason game. (Chris Graythen/Getty)
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By Evan Bleier / June 4, 2020 9:07 am

After sticking his cleat in his mouth with an ill-advised and tone-deaf comment about kneeling before games as a form of protest, New Orleans Saints quarterback was hit from all sides on social media by athletes from other sports, opponents in the NFL and even his own teammates.

Asked about the prospect of NFL players taking a knee in protest during the national anthem this season the way Colin Kaepernick once did, Brees took issue with the notion that non-violent protest before kickoff was appropriate.

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees told Yahoo Finance. “Let me just tell you what I see, 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 and make our country, and this world, a better place.”

The remark was met with harsh reactions from all sides, including from Brees’s New Orleans teammate and top target, Michael Thomas.

New Orleans star running back Alvin Kamara was more succint.

Malcolm Jenkins, who signed with the Saints his offseason, posted a video responding directly to his new teammate.

And longtime Saint Cameron Jordan also took a shot at his quarterback.

Devin and Jason McCourty, who play for the New England Patriots and are also both active with the Players Coalition, also took Brees to task.

“This is a disgrace,” the twins said in a statement. “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!

There were not the only ones.

NBA star LeBron James also took issue with what Brees had to say.

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was friends with George Floyd and has been at the forefront of coverage since the murder of his friend, also had some words for Brees.

One Saints player, defensive end Marcus Davenport, did hop on Twitter to defend his teammate.

“Drew wasn’t talking about the current protest, the riots or really anything besides HIS feelings on kneeling during the National Anthem,” Davenport said. “He even explained what they were, the basis and that he actually stands with us. Do we have to entirely agree with him, no.”

All the reactions prompted Brees to attempt to clarify his remarks to ESPN’s Mike Triplett.

“I love and respect my teammates and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice,” Brees said. “I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis.”

The clarification may not do much to prevent opposing defenders from being extra excited to face the 41-year-old QB next season, but it may prevent him from taking any further criticism.

It will be interesting to see whether NBC, which has an agreement in place for Brees to join the network once he retires from the NFL, re-thinks whether they want the one-time Super Bowl winner to join their team.

Especially after the reaction he received from some protesters in New Orleans on Wednesday night …

Early Thursday morning, Brees, perhaps after seeing what fans were saying about him while protesting in New Orleans, issued an apology, not a clarification.

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.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

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