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NFL QB Drew Brees Apologizes for ‘Insensitive’ Criticism Toward National Anthem Kneeling Protests

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Drew Brees posted a lengthy apology after he made “insensitive” remarks about those who have controversially taken a knee during the national anthem.


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Tré Goins-Phillips

Drew Brees posted a lengthy apology to Instagram Thursday, one day after he made “insensitive” remarks about those who have controversially taken a knee during the national anthem.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback said it “breaks my heart” to know his words caused “pain” for his “friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community.”

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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.

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“I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country,” he said. “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.”

On Wednesday, during an interview with Yahoo! Finance, Brees said he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”

He said it’s critical for all Americans to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner out of respect for the military, those who fought for civil rights in the 1960s, as well as “all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.”

In his post walking back those comments, Brees wrote:

“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 am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability,” he continued. “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.”

Two of Brees’ fellow Saints players have accepted the quarterback’s apology.

Wide receiver Michael Thomas said he has accepted Brees’ apology “because that’s what we are taught as to do as Christians.”

Linebacker Demario Davis commended Brees for “taking ownership” of his words.

“For him to admit that he was wrong and say I can do better and I will do better,” Davis told ESPN. “I think that is leadership at its finest.”