New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has faced backlash from the sports world following his comments regarding protesting during the national anthem, including from several Minnesota Vikings figures.
Yahoo Finance’s editor Daniel Roberts asked Brees what he thinks if “players kneeling again when the NFL season starts.”
Brees responded, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
The statement has been called tone-deaf, insensitive and poorly-timed amid social turmoil following the death of George Floyd.
Since, Brees’ teammates and athletes from the NFL, NBA and other sports have shared their disappointment in Brees, who otherwise had a sterling reputation in the NFL.
Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson was one of the first Vikings to respond, echoing the point of Brees’ not understanding the purpose of the protest.
Former cornerback Captain Munnerlyn shared a video of him slamming Brees to the ground during a game in 2014.
Vikings Hall of Famer and legendary wide receiver Cris Carter approved of messages from Malcolm Jenkins and Brees’ top target and teammate Michael Thomas, who spoke out against his quarterback despite leading the NFL in receiving yards a season ago.
Thomas’ point was that despite Brees’ feelings of what the anthem means to him, he gave no thought to how players of color may not see it the same way. InsidetheVikings’ Will Ragatz explains in more detail below:
“The issue with Brees’s comments is that he is only thinking about his own experience and what the anthem means to him, and hasn’t given any thought to how players of color might not feel the same way.
‘Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States,’ Brees said. ‘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. 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.’
The response to his remarks was swift and strong. As many pointed out, Black people also have grandfathers who fought in those wars, but then returned to a country that didn’t treat them with respect or gratitude. Racial inequality in the United States has remained an issue for decades upon decades since then; the recent deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery make that clear, as do statistics regarding education and employment opportunities, housing polices, and more.
Also, the protests by Kaepernick, Reid, and others were never about the flag. They were about taking a peaceful stand against police brutality in a way that would clearly be visible. The men and women who fought for this country overseas fought for those players’ rights to have free speech and stand up for injustice.
Brees issued an apology for his “insensitive” comments after a full day of criticism, posting this message on his social media accounts:
Thomas responded accepting Brees’ apology and reminded the public of the larger issues on hand.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire