President Trump forced Drew Brees to pick a side, and he did

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Before Friday afternoon, Saints quarterback Drew Brees had issued multiple apologies for reiterating his viewpoint on peaceful protests during the national anthem without addressing whether he had abandoned his position, as stated on Wednesday, that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag.” On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump publicly chastised Brees for doing something he had not yet publicly done.

In response to President Trump’s tweets directed at Brees, Brees realized that he had to pick a side. And he did.

Cajoled and challenged by Trump into doing so, Brees has plainly and publicly abandoned his viewpoint that protests during the national anthem constitute disrespect of the flag.

It’s a significant, and powerful, concession from Brees. His prior public apologies didn’t say that it’s not about the flag, an omission that likely was not accidental as Brees searched for a potential middle ground that allowed him to show empathy to the struggles of the black community when dealing with law enforcement while also reserving the right, in the event that he eventually launches his own political career (some believe that’s inevitable) to re-embrace a position that will ingratiate him to a specific segment of the American population — or, perhaps more importantly, that will not alienate them.

If that’s what was going on (and Occam’s razor is an eternal beacon in these contexts), Brees ditched the effort to straddle the fence and came down clearly, unequivocally, and publicly on the side of an issue that will piss off plenty of people, starting with Donald Trump and the Fifth Avenue band.

Coupled with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s compelling video message from earlier in the evening, Brees’ message to the President amounts to the drawing of a line in the sand by the NFL for a political fight to come, especially as the President tries to pump up his base in order to maximize turnout for the November election. At a time when the NFL already is concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the bottom line, the league now has to worry about whether a reprise of the 2017-style son-of-bitches attack from the President will impact TV ratings, especially if players decide to take a knee in peaceful and silent protest during the anthem in 2020.

In 2018, the NFL and the President quietly established a truce, sparked in transactional fashion by the administration securing a favorable term for the league in a new Canadian trade deal, by Goodell publicly thanking Trump for the favor, and by Trump publicly expressing appreciation for the show of gratitude by Goodell.

That back-and-forth marked significant progress in a relationship that had included Trump calling Goodell in 2015 “a dope” and “a stupid guy.” Those insults likely will be returning in the coming months, with Trump ramping up attacks on players who protest and those who allow them to do so.

“This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” Trump told Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during the initial NFL-DJT battle over the anthem. “Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”

Given recent events and polling that reflects their negative consequences on a re-election effort, the President will need any lifts he can find in advance of the election. And, as lifts goes, this one is low-hanging fruit for Trump.

96 responses to “President Trump forced Drew Brees to pick a side, and he did

  1. Trump trying to divide the country. Brees trying to tell Trump to back off. I pick Brees.

  2. Drew is smart enough to want to be on the right side of history on this. Trump and his cult are a dying breed.

  3. Hopefully enough people will come to realize that equating the kneeling with attacking the flag is both irrational and untrue. People who knew better used that false narrative to divide us and they were very successful.

    We have to hope this time it is different. Reform is long overdue.

  4. I love it.
    All of you who supported his initial statement saying that it is his right to express his opinion, now totally bashing him for…Drew Brees expressing his opinion.

    LMAO at all of you. Hypocracy knows no bounds, but one thing I do know…tonight, Drew Brees will sleep very well, because in his heart, he knows he did the right thing.

  5. It still amazes me that folks still don’t get Trump. He makes a somewhat controversial statement. One side flips out and pushes people who don’t agree them away (and towards Trump). It’s calculated and it has been working for years. Trump just won here, too. He made it a public debate about respecting the flag. His opponents flipped out, and his supporters are more motivated than ever. It’s simple, effective, and obvious is your don’t drawn yourself in emotion.

    To know yourself and to know your enemy is to fight a thousand battles and suffer no defeats.

  6. If we’re picking sides, it’s easy to pick Drew’s side. Trump, the POTUS, is willing to call in the military against the very people he is supposed to represent. It shows only that Trump only cares about himself.

  7. The contrast couldn’t be clear. Drew is a good man, who is willing to admit mistakes, and seeks to unify. Trump is a sociopath, unable to tell the truth or admit a mistake, and has calculated that his political interests are best served by pitting the country against each other even if it tears the country apart. Trump wraps himself in the flag after firing rubber bullets and tear gas at peaceful protestor exercising their First Amendment rights just he can get a photo opp holding a bible, a book he likely never read. I would replace Trump with Brees in the WH in a New York minute.

  8. iowalion72 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:03 am
    It still amazes me that folks still don’t get Trump. He makes a somewhat controversial statement. One side flips out and pushes people who don’t agree them away (and towards Trump). It’s calculated and it has been working for years. Trump just won here, too. He made it a public debate about respecting the flag. His opponents flipped out, and his supporters are more motivated than ever. It’s simple, effective, and obvious is your don’t drawn yourself in emotion.

    To know yourself and to know your enemy is to fight a thousand battles and suffer no defeats.

    ————
    The funny thing is, the people who are “more motivated than ever” were going to vote for him anyway, he gains nothing. Between the botched COVID-19 response and his completely tone deaf response to a nation in need of true leadership…he has lost far more potential voters than he can possibly gain with his same tired antics his cult blindly eat up. Instead of hiding in a bunker and only coming out when the peaceful protesters have been tear gassed…maybe he should actually reach out to those other than his base…the president is supposed to serve all of the people of this country, not just the minority that voted for him…

  9. Brees can be an important catalyst for discussion and change.

    I believe he’s sincere. But at some point, the daily apologies make it seem forced. Take a step back, do some more of the listening you’ve promised to do and then see if you can’t strategically affect that change. That will resonate more, and stoke less division, than an endless mea culpa tour.

  10. It’s always been a mystery why anyone would buy Trump’s phony patriot act anyway. He is a 5X draft dodger who had the nerve to mock our POWs who did serve because they were captured. I don’t mind so much his draft dodging, but if you don’t serve don’t trash our heroes who do serve. POW/MIA

  11. Hong Kong just passed a law making it a crime to disrespect the Chinese National anthem, with violators subject to fines an/or imprisonment. Pro-Beijing legislators had enough votes to impose the new law on the people. Some Americans probably envy Hong Kong’s new law.

  12. Very simply: If the NFL condones kneeling during the national anthem, I’m not watching.

  13. Never thought I’d see the day in America where dishonoring the flag was considered a win. Congratulations on your “win.”

  14. He already picked his side with his first comment which was what he really felt. All this is damage control.

  15. iowalion72 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:03 am
    It still amazes me that folks still don’t get Trump. He makes a somewhat controversial statement. One side flips out and pushes people who don’t agree them away (and towards Trump). It’s calculated and it has been working for years. Trump just won here, too. He made it a public debate about respecting the flag. His opponents flipped out, and his supporters are more motivated than ever. It’s simple, effective, and obvious is your don’t drawn yourself in emotion.

    To know yourself and to know your enemy is to fight a thousand battles and suffer no defeats.
    ——
    Just about everyone knows Trump’s game. He isn’t that complicated. However he is the president of the US. You know. A guy with the biggest bullhorn in the country if not the world. So what he says or does is going to be amplified. And good luck trying to ignore him. I tried but even then because of the power of the office everything freaking seeps through. I have relatives in a rural location of a central African nation and even they get far more regular information about Trump thrn I would expect. So I guess you can say Trump “won” but I’m not sure what the heck he won. He is still highly unpopular. His base of supporters were going to support him no matter what anyways. They’ve made it blatantly clear despite the embarrassment to the US he displays almost daily. So what did he win exactly?

  16. @niners816 would you like to elaborate on who these true Americans are? Let me guess any who shares your views. Wake up it is now time to embrace those who share different views then yourself. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t make them an enemy.

  17. niners816 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:08 am
    I stand with Trump and the true Americans.
    _————
    Right there with you.

  18. No… the players forced Brees to pick a side. It’s obvious they’ve made no middle ground or nuance possible. Full compliance and adherence or you’re automatically a racist.

  19. niners816 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:08 am
    I stand with Trump and the true Americans.

    We get it. “true Americans” to you = white Americans. But since you stand with Trump you will also fall with Trump.

  20. Why do the protests have to occur during the national anthem if they aren’t about the flag?

  21. Yes Breez picked a side and it’s a future gig for ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

  22. Trump’s “base” is not enlarging or getting stronger. It’s staying the same size and turning to stone. It’s not the same thing.

  23. There is a raging pandemic that has killed a hundred thousand Americans and our president is worried more about whether people stand for the National Anthem or not. America is in trouble.

  24. It’s an intelligence test. If your vote hinges on this sort of thing then you’re really too stupid to vote.

  25. Today’s society is embarrassing. No one is allowed to have any opinion that is different than what is deemed “acceptable”. It is ridiculous how many times I have seen someone have an opinion about an issue, find out it is unpopular on social media, then spend days and weeks apologizing for having the “wrong” opinion. This country is doomed. We are being guilted right out of our freedom.

  26. collectordude says:
    June 6, 2020 at 2:04 am
    niners816 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:08 am
    I stand with Trump and the true Americans.
    _————
    Right there with you.
    ——–
    Respect, brother.

  27. I’m sorry but I think a lot of people have this one wrong. No one is more anti-Trump and pro-Civil Rights than me. I’m old enough to have applauded President Johnson’s amazing civil rights efforts as an adult. It’s not the message. It’s that many of us feel that you don’t deliver it during the National Anthem or salute to the flag. Right message. Wrong forum.

  28. niners816 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:08 am

    I stand with Trump and the true Americans.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    We’re ALL “true Americans,” pal. Especially those getting tear gassed and clubbed on the streets.

  29. Privileged millionaires kneeling during the national anthem for injustice in the country that made them millionaires. Only in America. Oh, and the people that disagree with them shunned and guilted into apologizing for daring to have a different opinion. Yup, this is today’s America.

  30. Drew was bullied into making those revised statements which seems to be the new standard of discourse in this country.

  31. Doubt if Drew Brees will ever run for office after this, with the depth of electronic media and the ease with which anyone can search a person’s past history he’ll be answering for this the rest of his life. This should be a wake up call to all players, white or black anything you say can and will be held up to the scutiny of the masses.

  32. niners816 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:08 am
    I stand with Trump and the true Americans.
    ……………..
    True Americans have a constitutional right to peacefully protest. This was violated when teargas and rubber bullets were shot at them. And it was tear gas, you can look it up.

  33. 4 more years for President Trump is inevitable.
    —–
    He only won because the other option was HRC. The Dems won’t make that mistake again. This loudmouth dummy is gone.

  34. It only takes a few percent hit to have a significant impact on the NFLs bottom line and with this deal you’re probably talking a minimum of 25%. Owners aren’t gonna bleed 25% of their revenue to support kneeling, and rest assured Trump knows that.

  35. Howard Zinn, historian: “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

  36. joejoedancer55 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 5:22 am
    Why do the protests have to occur during the national anthem if they aren’t about the flag?
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Why do they play a militaristic anthem at sporting events? Who made that rule? Why not play it at movie theaters, rock concerts, classic car shows, art festivals, or flea markets?

    The National Anthem should be America the Beautiful. Leave the Star Spangled Banner for military graduation ceremonies and parades.

  37. niners816 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:08 am

    I stand with Trump and the true Americans.
    ————-
    well said, Brees should have done the honorable thing and just hide in his cellar or bunker if he had one… maybe add a fence around his home.

  38. The flag is a piece of cloth. But as a symbol, it’s supposed to represent what this country stands for, and one of the preeminent American ideals is expressed in the pledge: “liberty and justice for all.”

    So what happens when, because of their race, a large segment of the population is deprived of the American promise? When you’ve spent your life being watched every time you enter a store, when you are pulled over regularly for the crime of driving while black and, as the officer comes up to your car you frantically try to remember all the things you’re supposed to do avoid getting assaulted or killed, when the POTUS calls violent white supremacists “very fine people,” and on and on.

    Black Americans have been deprived of the promise of America, the promise symbolized by that flag. Read Martin Luther King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail, and you will see that while some things have improved in half a century, many have not. And his letter tells you, way more eloquently than I ever could, why black Americans despair leads to anger and action in protest. Refusing to stand for the flag and the anthem are nothing compared to what I would want to do if I went through years of the kind of treated my black friends are subjected to.

    So no, kneeling is not disrespecting the flag. Kneeling, like the flag itself, is a symbol. It’s a demonstration of protest against our nation’s continued failure to extend the American promise to all its people, and it’s a gesture of hope that that promise can still be achieved if we come together to truly honor America by working for liberty and justice for all.

  39. I think everyone should kneel during the anthem until Trump is soon out of office, then stand and cheer wildly.

  40. Oddly enough the people most vehemently arguing for honoring the flag are at the same time disgracing everything it’s supposed to stand for.

  41. @remizak I want you to know that your post changed my mind about the kneeling issue. Thank you for your approach. It’s rare these days that someone can articulate a message without making people who hold a contrary position defensive. You should run for politics. You have a rare talent. Change happens when we make it easier for people to see different perspectives.

  42. charbo says:
    June 6, 2020 at 10:15 am
    @remizak I want you to know that your post changed my mind about the kneeling issue. Thank you for your approach. It’s rare these days that someone can articulate a message without making people who hold a contrary position defensive. You should run for politics. You have a rare talent. Change happens when we make it easier for people to see different perspectives.

    ****************

    Thank you! And here I’ve always said that nobody ever changed anybody else’s mind on the internet.

    It is open-minded people of goodwill like you who will help us get through this.

  43. bching4215 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:03 am
    I love it.
    All of you who supported his initial statement saying that it is his right to express his opinion, now totally bashing him for…Drew Brees expressing his opinion.

    LMAO at all of you. Hypocracy knows no bounds, but one thing I do know…tonight, Drew Brees will sleep very well, because in his heart, he knows he did the right thing.

    Not exactly. The

  44. niners816 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:08 am
    I stand with Trump and the true Americans.
    ——————————————
    So. . . are you lumping “True Americans” in with a cowardly, draft-dodging liar? Or are you “standing” with both?

  45. u4iadman says:
    June 6, 2020 at 9:51 am
    Good for drew.
    This president is a moron.

    —————————-

    Indeed, good for Drew but it took 4 years, national protests and his teammates calling him out to his face to get to this point. Up until yesterday, for Drew, it was all about the flag.

  46. Drew caved, he said nothing wrong with his words but they did not line up with what some players league believed is words said.

  47. No one read the entire interview of Brees. I bet most people didn’t even hear or read the ENTIRE interview. He mentioned unity and we must do better. He mentioned the Civil Rights movement. The “mob” heard only the part on the flag and reacted.

  48. Anyone who will stand up to Trump is aces in my book. Yes,Brees caved,but he caved on the right side of things. Trump thinks it’s okay to tear gas his own people? Come on…this isn’t NK or Russia. Or is it?

  49. I do believe Drew is sincere and has changed his perspective. I wonder how he will handle this next phase, when those who backed him up to this point will turn on him and attack him viciously and call him anti-American.

  50. pologroundsvet says:
    June 6, 2020 at 7:51 am

    I’m sorry but I think a lot of people have this one wrong. No one is more anti-Trump and pro-Civil Rights than me. I’m old enough to have applauded President Johnson’s amazing civil rights efforts as an adult. It’s not the message. It’s that many of us feel that you don’t deliver it during the National Anthem or salute to the flag. Right message. Wrong forum.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Sorry, you do not get to pick how others choose to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Doesn’t work that way. It’s kind of the core of freedom of speech.

  51. Does anyone REALLY care if players kneel during the National Anthem? We’re there (at the game or watching on TV) to see the game, not to make political statements. Keep everything in its proper context and we’ll all be happier.

  52. One of the surest signs of a cult is that it tries to Punish you emotionally if you see the world differently.

  53. As a president, why is Trump opining on what a football player says? Guy’s job is to run a country, not police what people are saying. He has enough on his plate that Drew Brees shouldn’t even be entering his mind.

    It’s disheartening and depressing how divisive Trump is. Regardless of one’s position on what’s going on, right now is the time for a president as a leader to find some semblance of common ground to unite the country. It’s not even like he tries to do that and fails — he actively seeks to find ways to split people apart.

  54. It’s that many of us feel that you don’t deliver it during the National Anthem or salute to the flag. Right message. Wrong forum.
    __________________________________________________________________________
    Exactly, Hand salute!

  55. Brees is a wimp for changing his position. I am on the side of the protesters, and what they are fighting for…just do not kneel during the anthem…kneel any other time, and I will gladly be by your side.

  56. Don’t worry. Donald only has roughly six more months in office. So he won’t be hearing from him anymore, or at least no one will care since they won’t have to cover it like it’s important.

  57. To me, what Brees did should be a slap in the face to his teammates and all of those striving to end racism. His true feelings are those in his first statement. And he was well within his rights to say them. Just as Kaepernick has the right to feel like he does (and he has never wavered on it).

    These were FORCED apologies (What apology are we on now, #7, #8?). He is simply trying to diffuse a divisive situation and also save his port playing day career.

    If you have an opinion, stand with it. Take the heat and deal with it. So now, he fires back at Mr. White House twitter guy and he can say “See, teammates, I am on your side now”.

    Brees says now “It’s not about the flag”. That’s not what he said three days ago. All of a sudden he has been educated on the issues? Please…. I can respect someone for their opinion, whether I agree with it or not. I do however, have no respect for someone that changes their “opinion”, just because he is told to, or he wants to “Win over” the other side.

    Brees is an embarrassment.

  58. Got bullied into an apology. Not allowed to have an opinion or see multiple sides to an issue. God Bless America!

  59. horsepedlr says:
    June 6, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    i hope the looters and burn your home, then what tell me what side you pick.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    I don’t believe anyone here or elsewhere supports looters. They’re criminals. Arrest ’em. Charge ’em. Same with rogue cops who bash heads or worse — arrest ’em charge ’em. BOTH are criminal behavior.

  60. conormacleod says:
    June 6, 2020 at 3:48 pm
    VOTE
    ———————————-
    Agreed.

    For me, for the 3rd straight election, it will not be for a candidate from either of the major two parties…

  61. With all this backpedaling, the Saints should look at using Brees in the secondary..

  62. Can someone please tell me what Drew Brees said about the flag and anthem that was offensive? There is no wrong answer but I’m just curious. And “lebron james and malcom jenkins told me to be offended” might not be the best response but if that’s how you feel.

  63. So black millionaire football players are taking a knee and bitchin because they believe they have been abused for years by blue state democrat mayors and governors.

  64. And Brees forced Saints fans to choose.

    As a lifelong Saints fan, Brees can kick rocks. Sellout.

  65. Given recent events and polling that reflects their negative consequences on a re-election effort
    ==============
    Rasumussen reports 40% approval for Trump by black voters. The election is over already if this holds.

  66. niners816 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 12:08 am
    I stand with Trump and the true Americans.
    ————————————–

    Dude, you really need to decide which one.

  67. Jimmygeewhiz wrote:
    Sorry, you do not get to pick how others choose to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Doesn’t work that way. It’s kind of the core of freedom of speech.

    I get it Jimmy, and I both understand and respect what you wrote. I only expressed my opinion but not the position that anyone had to follow it or even agree with it. That’s what makes us great. I’ll march in a Civil Rights protest but I’ll stand when the National Anthem is played. As to the Anthem – you do what you think is right. As to Civil Rights – I expect we both have the same position.

  68. Both Brees and Kaepernick are correct. The flag is large enough and broad enough to be a symbol of BOTH military honor and patriotism, and a symbol of the first amendment freedom to burn it or urinate upon it — as the US Supreme Court long ago held in, Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989). Arguing otherwise itself disrespects the flag flying over the U.S. Supreme Court, and the U.S. Constitution.

    The NFL carrying a huge horizontal flag onto the field of commercially based competition, touched by hundreds of hands in its middle, flatly violates the code of respect for the flag, “The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.” 4 USC §8(c); and, in blatent violation of 4 USC §8(i): “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.” But instead of recognizing the League’s blatently disrespectful conduct, people focused upon their opposition to a man doing nothing wrong but challenging their support for murderous police conduct that violates the 5th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution.

    This presents an objective demonstration of “REVERSE KAEPERNICK” bias or prejudice. I.e., “it must be my way, or you are a bad person.” That is not the living freedom which is one thing for which the flag is a symbol. That narrow and limited thinking, disrespects the flag flying over the U.S. Supreme Court, and only serves to divide people into biased groups, rather than uniting them in the fight for justice and equality.

    We are the HUMAN RACE. Our DNA is 99.99…% the same. When applied in this context, the term “race” itself perpetuates the problem. The United Nations no longer uses the term “race” to denote various forms of prejudice and bigotry.

    Epidermal bias is a primitive fear response, on lack of awareness about how persons of varied epidermal pigmentation — just 25 thousandths of an inch thick — think and feel. Punitive reaction only perpetuates the problem. Fear is of the unknown.

    SOLUTIONS: Knowledge and awareness are power. Learning to have greater awareness, compassion, and empathy is the long term solution. See e.g., Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence and YCEI [dot] ORG.

  69. How about we take a knee in the month of February? Especially Everytime “Lift Every Voice And Sing” is played. Since Drew Brees voice was trying to be silenced.

  70. Funny how the same people that worship the second amendment love to completely ignore the first amendment. The hypocrisy is almost too much.

  71. chiefsfolife says:
    June 6, 2020 at 7:56 am
    Privileged millionaires kneeling during the national anthem for injustice in the country that made them millionaires. Only in America. Oh, and the people that disagree with them shunned and guilted into apologizing for daring to have a different opinion. Yup, this is today’s America.
    —–
    First of all, their country didnt make them millionaires, they earned it themselves. And second, didnt you people do the same thing by shunning and guilting the players for kneeling? Man, you hypocrites make me laugh lol

  72. iamthegreatcornflorio says:
    June 6, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Given recent events and polling that reflects their negative consequences on a re-election effort
    ==============
    Rasumussen reports 40% approval for Trump by black voters. The election is over already if this holds.

    ———————————————————————————
    LOL, and Quinnipiac (a far more reputable and objective poll) shows Biden getting 81 percent of black vote to Trump’s 3 percent.

    If you actually think black people are going to vote for Trump, who is having peaceful protestors gassed and shot in the streets, instead of Obama’s vice president, you are beyond delusional.

  73. blueboxer1119 says:
    June 6, 2020 at 7:04 pm
    And Brees forced Saints fans to choose.

    As a lifelong Saints fan, Brees can kick rocks. Sellout
    ====

    Who did he sellout? Whites?

    If that’s what you think, guess what it makes you.

  74. One great difficulty is real history, in full, is no longer taught in schools. Young people are growing up without a clue concerning the foundations of this country so they are easily shaped by the wrong elements.

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