"I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country," Drew Brees said

By Eric Todisco
June 04, 2020 10:03 AM

Drew Brees has issued an apology after receiving major blowback for his comments regarding the #TakeAKnee movement in the NFL, just over a week after the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback came under fire by many for saying in an interview with Yahoo Finance, published Wednesday, that he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States" when asked about the movement that Colin Kaepernick started in 2016.

Brees, 41, shared a lengthy Instagram post on Thursday to apologize for his comments, alongside a photo of a white person and a black person clasping hands.

"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," the athlete wrote. "In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused."

Chris Graythen/Getty

"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," he continued. "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," Brees added, before listing his stances and beliefs that support the black community. "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."

The father of four also shared that he condemns the oppression against the black community "that still exists today," and also admitted 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," Brees said. "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."

Michael Loccisano/Getty

Brees insisted that he's "always been an ally, never an enemy," and said he is "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," he said. "For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness."

In addition to his lengthy Instagram post on Thursday, Brees also shared a video to offer his apologies to fans on his social media.

"I know there's not much that I can say that would make things any better right now, but I just want you to see in my eyes how sorry I am with the comments that I made yesterday," he says in the video. "I know that it hurt many people, especially friends, teammates, former teammates, loved ones, people that I care and respect deeply. That was never my intention."

"I wish I would have laid out what was on my heart in regards to the George Floyd's murder, Ahmaud Arbery, the years and years of social injustice, police brutality and the need for so much reform the change in regards to legislation and so many other things to bring equality to our black communities," Brees adds. "I am sorry, and I will do better. And I will be part of the solution and I am your ally. I know no words will do that justice."

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During the Yahoo Finance interview, Brees also brought up his two grandfathers that fought during World War II when explaining why he believes the #TakeAKnee movement disrespects the flag.

"Both [risked] their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place," he said. "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."

Brees' comment did not sit well with Suits star Wendell Pierce, who called out the NFL athlete on Twitter and brought up his own father serving in World War II.

"My father fought in the Double V campaign, victory abroad &victory at home," Pierce — a New Orleans native — wrote. "We won victory over fascism abroad but we’re still fighting racism at home. @Drewbrees my father cheers for you every Sunday, I hope you cheer for him as he takes a knee for the flag he nearly died for."

Other stars to similarly criticize Brees included the NBA's LeBron James, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Saints' wide receiver Michael Thomas.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.