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.”