Some called back to former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s initial decision to sit down and kneel in 2016, but Brees did not, mentioning in an interview with Yahoo! Finance that he finds the act to “disrespect” the flag and the United States of America.
The latest response comes from New Orleans, during a protest of the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis, Minnesota, man whose death in police custody sparked national outrage, protests and riots around the country.
Here are Brees’ full comments in response to being asked about recent events and kneeling for the anthem, via Yahoo! Finance:
I 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 two, 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. 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.
In 2017 Brees Said the Anthem Offers a Chance to ‘Be Unified & to Show Respect for Our Country’
Three NFL seasons ago, teams and players around the league were following Kaepernick’s lead, although many organizations chose to take their own unique approach, including the Saints.
New Orleans elected to kneel before the national anthem during their September 24 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Brees talked in a press conference about the action and his thoughts.
I disagree with what [President Donald Trump] said and how he said it. I think it’s very unbecoming of the office and the President of the United States to talk like that to great people like that.
But as it pertains to the national anthem, I will always feel that, if you’re an American, that the national anthem is the opportunity for us all to stand up together and be unified and to show respect for our country. To show respect for what it stands for, the birth of our nation.
Saints Receivers Expressed Disappointment at Brees’ Comments
Besides backlash from the people of New Orleans, Brees has also seen disappointment from his own receivers in Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Thomas responded with an emoji on a quote tweet, but there’s not much interpretation to be had over how he felt.
Thomas has been Brees’ most-prolific receiver since being drafted by New Orleans in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, racking up 5,512 yards and 32 touchdowns in four seasons.
Sanders, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the Saints after playing with the 49ers last season.
Like Thomas, Sanders kept his dissatisfaction relatively short, calling his new quarterback’s comments ignorant. The Super Bowl 50 champ and two-time Pro Bowler is entering his 11th season in the league.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.