Since posting a pair of passionate, emotional videos on Wednesday reacting to Drew Brees‘ controversial comments reiterating his belief that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag,” Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins has posted nothing new on social media.
Beyond former NBA star and current NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal explaining that Jenkins accepted Brees’ apology during a virtual team meeting in which O’Neal participated, Jenkins has said or done nothing to indicate whether he believes the matter has been resolved by Brees’ public and private apologies.
But Jenkins has provided one clue as to where he possibly stands. This afternoon, Jenkins “liked” a clip tweeted by ESPN’s Maria Taylor from her Friday appearance on First Take.
“Let me be clear,” Taylor said regarding the second apology from Drew Brees. “I don’t know about his heart either, but I know what should reside in your heart is empathy. And I don’t believe that you have to be trolled and dragged through Twitter and Instagram in order to change your mind and realize that what you said was intolerant and/or could be considered insensitive later. If you had been educated and forced to confront the issues and, like I said, had empathy in your heart, then you would have known the black experience is not easy, especially when 70 percent of your league is African-American and these are the conversations that you should have had. So maybe it’s not, not his whole heart is bad but something about empathy was off if the first thing — the first thing — out of his mouth was . . . ‘I will not tolerate anything that’s disrespectful to the nation and the flag.’ That was the first thing. . . .
“I’m exhausted and I’m tired of having to listen to someone say something like that and then have to sit back and [say], ‘Well maybe he didn’t, maybe it’s not his heart, and it’s this and it’s that.’ When you reveal yourself to me and you say something like that and you say it out of an intolerant mind and/or heart or a non-empathic heart and for the last five years all we’ve done is see countless deaths in the street. My patience left my body when I watched George Floyd take his last breath, so if that didn’t affect you and make you want to reassess the way that you’re going to answer a question that includes racial injustice in our country after you watched that man die in the middle of the street, something’s off. I don’t know if it’s your heart. I don’t know if it’s your mind. But I don’t accept either of them anymore. I will not tolerate it anymore.
“And Drew Brees, I will accept your apology. But I don’t have to sit here and wonder what is wrong or what is right and guess if you are a good or bad person. I am not the judge and/or the jury. All I can do is let you reveal yourself, and countless people are doing that right now. And for the first time ever, they are reaping some kind of consequence that does not have any retaliation for me or the people that are calling them out. For the first time, I feel like I can go on TV and say certain things. For the first time, people feel that they can tweet certain things. And people can be held accountable for the things that they are putting on display. And I’m not going to apologize for that. Drew Brees and everyone else can keep apologizing, over and over and over.”
The Brees apologies continue to omit one key point: Whether Brees still believes that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag,” whether he has abandoned that position, or whether he is actively in the process of reconsidering his viewpoint. If Brees still believes on Friday what he said on Wednesday, the best comparison crafted on the fly during Friday’s PFT Live is this: Brees wore a T-shirt in his neighborhood with an offensive phrase written on it, his neighbors complained loudly about it, he apologized profusely and sincerely for it, and then he showed up the next day wearing the same T-shirt.
As applied to the “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” opinion directed to potentially renewed protests during the anthem in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, where is the T-shirt? Is it still being worn? Has it been thrown in the trash? Is it a layer or two beneath a Saints jersey? Or is it hanging in the closet, possibly to be worn again in the future?
Maybe Brees answered these questions during the team meeting. If he did, his teammates should want him to answer these questions publicly, too. If someone like Brees were willing and able to say to other white Americans who share his Wednesday viewpoint that he has seen the light and that he understands the true intent of a peaceful protest during the national anthem aimed at bringing attention to police brutality against minorities, that would send a powerful and persuasive message to millions who need to hear the message right now.
At some point, Jenkins presumably will address the situation again. For now, all we have from Jenkins is silence, which when coupled with his decision to “like” Maria Taylor’s candid, well-reasoned remarks quite possibly speaks volumes.