Drew Brees: It breaks my heart to know the pain I caused

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees responded to a question about players kneeling to protest racial inequality and police brutality by saying that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country” and that response brought a slew of strong rebukes from inside and outside the football world.

Some of those rebukes came from Brees’ teammates in New Orleans, including safety Malcolm Jenkins, wide receiver Michael Thomas and defensive end Cam Jordan, and most of the responses centered on Brees missing the point being raised by protestors.

Brees responded to those men and others who were critical of his comments with an apology posted to Instagram on Thursday morning. Brees wrote that his comments were “insensitive and completely missed the mark” and the entire statement is printed in its entirety here:

“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,” Brees wrote. “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.”

81 responses to “Drew Brees: It breaks my heart to know the pain I caused

  1. It is a shame that you can’t stand up for what you believe in without being ridiculed these days. I stand behind Brees and George Floyd.

  2. I’m not a big Brees fan, but that’s a solid statement. Kudos to him.

  3. He really had nothing to apologize for. I understand it is probably miserable having everyone come after you for making a completely legitimate comment, but I lost a little respect for him for apologizing. It is funny because LeBron, et al accuse him of not getting it while they purposely misconstrue Brees’ statement. He never said the cause wasn’t legitimate or anything even approaching that. All he said was that standing for the anthem/flag is a sign of respect and unity. You can disagree with that if you want, but you can’t make the leap to all these terrible things they accuse him of.

  4. His original statement came off too harsh. “I’ll never” is not a good way to start things off given what’s going on right now. Good for him for owning up to it.

  5. You had me at sorry Drew. The rest wasn’t necessary. Great job by the PR team though.

  6. Apology accepted! It’s that simple in the end. People make mistakes, people with class recognize theirs, and make credible amends. Brees not only admitted he was wrong, he simultaneously morally checked the people who supported his now errant statement.

  7. Um how does one being proud to be an American make you the enemy? I just don’t understand social media

  8. This situation shows how technology use creates a mob mentality and instant analysis with out any analysis. Instead of criticizing your teammate on social media call him and talk to him about how you disagree with his views.

  9. Agree or stay slient. That’s what it’s like to be an American anymore.

  10. If the player protests have nothing to do with the flag, then why are they conducted during the national anthem?

  11. I can understand why his view is being perceived as insensitive and wrong. However, after watching both police kill a man and the disgusting acts of violence and crime in the aftermath, trashing Drew Brees as a person due to his opinion is not helping anyone’s cause. If there were more Americans like Drew Brees this would be a better country for all people of all colors.

  12. Will we see statements now from all the people that blasted him? Doubt it.

  13. It’s ok to change your mind especially when given a different perspective. It’s called empathy.

  14. Anyone else disturbed by the trend of media and celebrities bullying those with different but reasonable opinions until they “apologize”? Or is that just me?

    Brees didn’t apologize, he surrendered. And it didn’t help your cause whatsoever.

  15. The same Drew Brees who recently donated 5 million dollars to local charities to fight the virus ravaging minority neighborhoods even greater?

    How much have other prominent athletes donated?

  16. Flash1211 says:
    June 4, 2020 at 8:40 am
    Shouldn’t have to apologize for your opinion


    He didnt have to. He chose to. When you say something stupid, divisive, and hurtful and it hurts the people you care about you should apologize.

  17. I’m disappointed Drew Brees backed off comments I’m sure he feels strongly about…because he’s had several years to shape his view. He never got past this not being about the Anthem or the Flag. However misinformed he is, I know he believes this is a protest about Anthem & Flag. While I wholeheartedly disagree with him, own it son.

  18. The timing of his initial comments that was horrible and tone deaf to the current situation. But Brees came to realize that and stood up to his mistake like a man. I respect that.

  19. OK. If that’s the way it’s gonna be… Been a fan for 40+ years, but no more. Thanks for freeing up my Sundays, guys. Oh, and Thursday nights too.

  20. To those who say he caved, he did make a mistake by implying that those who knelt had the intention of disrespecting the flag and anthem. Even though he might consider it disrespectful, he had no right to speak of what was in the hearts of others. He needed to make this appropriate apology and tell those he hurt he understands what they are fighting for and he will continue to help them fight for equality in society. He is such a great human being. No need to pile on. Great learning experience for him and other non minority citizens like myself.

  21. They are both right. But the problem continues unless we deal with the entire problem. Both sides are culpable, both sides contribute to the problem. To put all the blame on one side won’t change anything.

  22. Now is the perfect time to retire and turn the team over to Jameis Winston.

    Bucs Nation

  23. He sounds sincere in his apology. He didn’t really retract his statement regarding his opinion of disrespecting the Flag & National Anthem, but clearly understands that his comments were hurtful and off the mark. The Kneeling debate is for another time. Systematic Racism change needs to be at the forefront of our efforts.

  24. I’m sorry but when you refuse to respect our national anthem, you are disrespecting our country.

  25. People seem to be forgetting that you can do both. You can respect your forebears AND be an ally to the causes of equality and justice. You can’t make a man disown his beliefs, like honoring the service and sacrifice of his grandfathers, as proof of support for your cause. Drew has proven his worth to both the city of New Orleans and the black community within it, not by some symbolic act, but by many GENUINE acts of solidarity with his city and it’s residents of color. Drew Brees is NOT the problem.

  26. The entire kneeling thing has been misconstrued from the beginning. Proper symbolism, wrong time to do it. Only good thing to come out of the whole thing is that Kap is without a job, not for kneeling but because he just ain’t that good.

  27. People have a right to express opinions, just like we in this country have a right to peacefully protest. Brees has large audience for his opinions, so there should be no surprise if some disagree with him.

    When political rhetoric twists meanings then we get to a situation where everyone gets to pick and choose what Kaepernick intended with his initial protest. In the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Kaepernick’s protest certainly seems validated.

    The flag is a symbol of everything that our country represents – the symbol should never be superior to the actual freedoms and rights we have as citizens.

    Kaepernick and other players have protested during the anthem because it was an avenue available to them. No, those of us in normal jobs can’t generally make political statements at work.

    Brees lives in a bubble that only wealth and privilege can provide so it’s not surprising that he would be out of touch with social issues.

    I side with the players and their right to protest peacefully. This country was founded on protest. I have not personally experienced the hostility and tension that exists between police and minority communities. I try my best to empathize and understand and, at the very least, believe that an unarmed person should never end up dead at the hands of the police who are here “to protect and serve”, not to bully, intimidate and harass.

  28. Brees said nothing wrong. He spoke what he believed in. Whether from his press agent or
    by himself he through himself under the bus to calm things down. You can call him a sell out, but really he did the right thing here and that speaks volume. Too bad LeBron and crew just can’t do the same. Lets pick on a good guy to make things worst than it really is.
    If anyone thinks that brings out unity, good luck.

  29. He was in a no-win situation. You open your mouth these days and someone will have a target on you regardless of what or how you say it. And if you are silent, you are complicit in killing, according to signs at protests. So just know when you answer a question that, likely, you’ll have to have a follow up mea culpa for what you said. Freedom of speech in this country has been dead a while.

  30. Drew you forgot to add that The FLAG and all those who have died to preserve it DOES stand for those same principles. That is what defines America and those words are written into the Constitution and all the Laws that have flowed from it. The Flag does not stand for oppression and racism and should not be disrespected. It is the PEOPLE in power all levels that have dishonored The Flag and that is where the protests and movements should be focused.

  31. So how do we know this apology is legitimate? Because like so many who voice opinions outside of the mainstream they are bullied into submission. I think he had it right the first time. This is a man who’s given his time and money to help the New Orleans community including people of color. He voiced an opinion. He had nothing to apologize for.

  32. Great conversation Mike and Chris! Saints fan here, and I agree with your comments!

  33. Well done Drew. Learning from your mistakes.

    Drew is a class act and has done SOOOOO much for NOLA. He’s not a racist or a bad guy. The opposite actually….but he came off tone def. I hope he means what he just posted and can be a positive light with this issue now.

    To the idiots saying he didn’t need to apologize, or he did nothing wrong….get a cluw and stop being a bunch of ignorant sheep.

    This is coming for a 40 year old white guy. Time to stop being silent and educate yourselves about whats going on in this nation.

    I love this country, it’s flag and our armed services…I also love all my fellow Americans equally. ALL OF THEM!

    Grow up America!

  34. The Anthem kneeling always came down to “what does America mean to you?” Do you think of 1776 and Freedom and victory in the world wars, or do you think of the institution (the rules, laws, leaders)? If it’s the institution and that has not been kind to people that look like you, everyone should be able to understand it. I can also see how people whose parents fought in WW2 or Korea would have a tough time accepting anything less than standing at full attention for the anthem. The trick is seeing that it never had anything to do with the military, Brees doesn’t see that.

  35. Flash1211 says:
    June 4, 2020 at 8:40 am
    Shouldn’t have to apologize for your opinion

    You don’t. He did. Because he understood that what was in his heart was not what people heard. That is called “character”. So while you are worried about that crap, he is trying to be part of the solution. I for one applaud him.

  36. ineptguy8 says:
    June 4, 2020 at 8:53 am

    All he said was that standing for the anthem/flag is a sign of respect and unity. You can disagree with that if you want, but you can’t make the leap to all these terrible things they accuse him of.


    He did not just say that standing for the anthem/flag is a sign of respect or unity. He also said that NOT standing is an active sign of disrespect and that he has a problem with that. Those two statements are not identical. Read them closely and see the nuance.

    His “problem” is rooted in how HE views the anthem/flag and what it means to him, symbolically and sentimentally. Symbolic and sentimental meaning are very individual-specific; you and I can look at the same thing and they might mean very different things to us. The catch is, he assumes that everyone else must view those things as he does and, thus, if you don’t behave the way he does, you’re being disrespectful. Not hard to see how a statement like that comes off as tone deaf right now.

    FWIW, I’m not for or against Brees or siding one way or the other. Just saying that I can see at least one among multiple potential reasons why his words weren’t well-received.

  37. deadinbed says:
    June 4, 2020 at 10:01 am
    I’m sorry but when you refuse to respect our national anthem, you are disrespecting our country.

    When you refuse to listen to the people occupying “ our “ country, standing for the national anthem seems pretty irrelevant…

    Do people who choose to not to pray during mass prayer have that right ?

    Home of the free has and never will be “ home of the free so long as you subject yourself to these guidelines that make life more comfortable for everyone “.

  38. Brees was clearly correct in his comments and was bullied into this lame apology. Of COURSE they were disrespecting the flag and the Nation. That was the entire intent. Just dashed off a letter to the team for which I am a season ticket holder. Told them that if they allow the hate America stuff at the games I’m out. Not what I’m paying for. The players can protest all they like on their own time.

  39. I don’t agree with Brees original comment, however we should except a man or woman’s apology as sincere unless we know otherwise His future actions and what is in his heart and soul will bear out where he stands. Another thing. How many seats are empty in the stands and at home when the anthem starts. We know that it happens at a certain time before every game. Why are people avoiding the chance to pay tribute? Do we let them know we don’t agree and they are disrespecting the flag and military? . If we stand and place our hands on our heart, but are thinking about the first 15 plays or what we did at the bar last night is it much different then a person that is getting a beer or kneeling. At least the person kneeling is most likely thinking about what the flag and anthem mean to them.

  40. deadinbed says:
    June 4, 2020 at 10:01 am
    I’m sorry but when you refuse to respect our national anthem, you are disrespecting our country.

    When will you meat-heads get it? It’s not about disrespecting the flag or the national anthem. It is the OPPOSITE. The flag and national anthem represent freedom to ALL Americans. It is clearly evident that those freedoms are not applied equally to all Americans. One of our rights is to peacefully protest inequality. If the symbol that represents equality is being flown in America and America is not reflecting what the flag symbolizes, then taking a knee is a peaceful objection to what is systematically going on in this country. It’s time to wake up. You can be a white Christian football fan and recognize this without sacrificing anything. Brees just did it. The flag and the millions who have fought and died for this country are not going condemn you. They will applaud you for being on the same page. Those who condemn this are acting either in ignorance or with ulterior motives that are only constructive to keeping the wide racial divide in the United States where it is at or widening it.

  41. You should never have to apologise for speaking your mind, but something tells me that mega contract may have been on the line to some extent

  42. Brees heard from people he respected, and changed his mind. He then apologized. Thisis what I did several years ago when I made a statement to my high school students(90%African American) that I saw nothing wrong with. I was lucky in that several respected me enough that they spoke to me and expressed their anger and hurt caused by my words and perceived attitude. I had to listen, and it was uncomfortable, but I saw things from a new perspective. What hurts me most is that so many here and in this great country refuse to even acknowledge that they can see things differently. They discount and do not even want to hear wht the community in pain is saying. How can anyone lose respect for Brees for this?!?!?!?! Brees finally listened, considered, and changed his outlook. There will be unrest and pain until more people are willing to do so. I hope the responses from this online community are not indicative of the feelings of the rest of the country. Learn from Brees. Listen to your fellow man with an open mind.

  43. Why is it that one should feel bad when he has the right to say what he feels. This is what Colin did but it backfired on him and did not say one word. Nothing will ever change when one side of the fence can say and do as they please and expect the other side to all agree

  44. Brees spoke without thinking and then made a sincere and solid statement. Follow through on your words and you will be forgiven.

  45. He owes no apology for anything he said. Listen to the entire answer. Sad that it came to this.

  46. How quickly people forget what this man did after Katrinna. He was a beacon of hope at a time of need. We are turning into a country of people that bullies those who share a different opinion than us. He is truly a class act.

  47. Good for him to apologize but I don’t think other players will ever look at him the same way. He is done in the league.

  48. Brees spoke without thinking it through and then made a sincere and solid statement to restate his opinion accurately. If he follows through on his words, then no harm done. He will continue to be a stand-up guy with good intentions.

  49. I’ve stated this before. I am a woman of colour. Let me say I 100% do not believe Drew Brees is a racist. Do I believe what he said was tone deaf and a tad insensitive? Yes. But I’m asking again. Please focus on the issue of police brutality and the deaths of people in custody. Stop singling people out. It dilutes the message.

  50. Hysterical all the morons that say he doesn’t need to apologize, and the Kap is disrespecting the Nation.

    Get a clue people.

  51. My takeaway from this is that Brees sat down and had a heart-to-heart conversation with people and came away with a new understanding. In light of that new understanding, he issued an apology. So many of our problems could be well on the way to a solution if we actually communicated with each other.

    We are letting politicians and biased sources drive us apart, putting us in warring camps. I have friends who are Democrats, Republicans, third-party members and unaffiliated. We don’t agree on everything in politics, but we can all discuss issues and we can mostly harmonize our views. But even where we still disagree, our conversations leave us still respecting each other. What happened in this country that this has become unusual?

    To dig in your heels and refuse to listen to different opinions will just keep things as they are, and I don’t think anyone sees that as a good thing. I wish Brees had had his heart-to-heart discussions before he made his statement, but at least he is willing to work with people for the good. Shame on those who are characterizing his heartfelt apology as weak or wrong.

  52. Look at all the idiots in here upset that he actually apologized to his teammates and broke from their racist agenda, no longer fighting their “good fight(bad fight).

    Sorry fellas, still not cool to be a racist.

    Once again I can respect and like this man. Nobody is perfect.

  53. He is full of crap. Everyone can tell that he meant what he said. He really doesn’t care about civil rights and why people are disillusioned with flag and what it stands for.

  54. Brees doesn’t believe what he said there, no way. Kap made it clear from the beginning it had nothing to do with disrespecting the military. He fell for the trumplikkkan narrative plain and simple. Its all on him for making an igorant statement. His season is over before it started.

  55. realityonetwo says:
    June 4, 2020 at 9:36 am
    OK. If that’s the way it’s gonna be… Been a fan for 40+ years, but no more. Thanks for freeing up my Sundays, guys. Oh, and Thursday nights too.
    Bye, you will not be missed.

  56. dpj1022 says:
    June 4, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Brees was clearly correct in his comments and was bullied into this lame apology. Of COURSE they were disrespecting the flag and the Nation. That was the entire intent. Just dashed off a letter to the team for which I am a season ticket holder. Told them that if they allow the hate America stuff at the games I’m out. Not what I’m paying for. The players can protest all they like on their own time.


    1. You’re wrong – the players have said multiple times it’s not about the country, the flag, the military (many have family that have served), etc. It’s a simple protest about the systemic racism that exists in our country and, specifically, how police seem to keep killing black men. But with that said…
    2. Why should black players show respect for a symbol of a nation that treats them like second class citizens?
    3. Hopefully your team of choice told you they don’t need your business.

  57. It isn’t “caving” to listen to another opinion, allow your mind to be changed, and to apologize for a mistake. It’s called growth… as a human… Something we should all be striving for not railing against.

  58. I guess what governs one’s opinion now is whether it offends LeBron and his followers. So does Brees have the right to his opinion…yes or no? Somehow when we were taking fire in those rice paddies so long ago, we were told it was to defend democracy, the Constitution and our country. Does that only apply if your opinion is the same as others? Brees said he feels that kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful. Anywhere from 54-58% of people polled agree with him. They are not right or wrong. They are presenting their opinion. I agree with Brees. Period. I also find racism and police brutality wrong. Period.

  59. It’s sad but the 1st Amendment is dead. You are supposed to support the right of your peers to say what they feel even if you disagree with them. These days you can stop free speech with shaming people. Brees did nothing wrong and did not need to apologize.

  60. Or maybe he knows the number of unarmed AA killed by police. He may even know how many cops have been killed by AAs. Don’t allow facts to get in the way.

  61. @ deadinbed,

    “I’m sorry but when you refuse to respect our national anthem, you are disrespecting our country.”

    Uhhhh, can you tell me specifically how kneeling during the anthem is “disrespecting” our country? What happened to George Floyd only reinforces the senseless actions that Kaepernick was protesting in the 1st place.

    Kaepernick began to kneel instead of sitting on the bench at the reccomendation of Nate Boyer, a former green beret, as a sign of respect when peacefully protesting. If he was disrespecting the national anthem, he would have simply stayed in the locker room or sat on the bench.

    People such as yourself are going to see this as they want to, through their own filters, REGARDLESS of the facts surrounding the issue.

    Brees had his own take on it, and he too missed the mark on the context of Kaepernick’s kneeling. But, we are all entitled to our own opinions, and some simply make up their minds as to what it all means regardless of the facts involved.

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