Less than 24 hours after igniting a racial firestorm by preaching the flag instead of standing in solidarity with those protesting police brutality, NFL quarterback Drew Brees is apologizing for the way his remarks were “perceived.”
“I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening,” Brees said in a statement issued today. “I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”
Quick backstory: In an interview with Yahoo Finance yesterday, Brees, who has a long partnership with the antigay hate group Focus on the Family, said he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America” when asked about NFL players peacefully protesting police brutality by taking a knee. Then we went on a tangent about how his grandfathers fought in WWII and so the flag is very important to him. (More important, evidently, than Black lives.)
It was his first public comment since George Floyd’s murder last week and, let’s just say, it didn’t go over well. A backlash quickly ensued, with NBA star LeBron James, Brees’ teammate Michael Thomas, and many, many others speaking out against his remarks.
Now, Brees says it “it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused” with the sentiment he expressed yesterday.
“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,” Brees said in an apology posted to his Instagram page this morning.
He went on to say that he stands “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 have always been an ally, never an enemy,” he continued. “I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability.”
View this post on Instagram
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. 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.
Unfortunately for the quarterback, people don’t seem to be buying the apology…
Take this for what it is, if you're trying to issue an apology, a press release is not the route. Take your ass on camera and apologize. Then go take some actions forward to show us/yourself that you actually are sorry. Morning @drewbrees
— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) June 4, 2020
Live look at Drew Brees apology pic.twitter.com/KnqamrUrPX
— Brian Tulloch (@2lockSports) June 4, 2020
Does the Drew Brees apology ring sincere or is it damage control? He missed the mark? But he has obviously and willingly BEEN missing the mark. And he’s not alone.
— Karen Hunter (@karenhunter) June 4, 2020
— Raw & Uncut ( PodCast ) (@RawAndUncutpod) June 4, 2020
As you process Drew Brees’ apology, might want to consider this … https://t.co/hFwAWzoFA2
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 4, 2020
It was fuck Drew Brees yesterday and it’s fuck Drew Brees today after his PR team wrote that apology – the end !!!!!!
— Rich Dollaz (@richdollaz) June 4, 2020
Drew Brees’ apology is bullshit and he can just save it. He meant everything he said yesterday. His apology is just damage control because his teammates and other athletes was dragging him to hell. #DrewBreesIsCancelled pic.twitter.com/8nr5xS1hg8
— Anita Faker (@MovesLikeRoy) June 4, 2020
Unless Drew Brees states the NFL was wrong to blacklist Kaepernick then he can take his PR crafted apology and stick it up his —-
— Jonathan Jewel (@jonathanjewel) June 4, 2020
Nowhere in @DrewBrees' "apology" does he ever say that he was WRONG to conflate the Anthem protests with disrespect of the flag. He simply talks about how his ignorant comments "misled" people.
No, Drew. They LED us to your true beliefs.
— Matt Rogers ?? (@Politidope) June 4, 2020
Nah Drew you have been saying this since Kaepernick started kneeling. You are only apologizing because of the public backlash! Keep your half ass apology and your shitty opinions to yourself! #DrewBreesIsCancelled https://t.co/PPuxPEYlNi
— Ariel Guillory (@MsArielg) June 4, 2020
— Marshari. (@mlady36) June 4, 2020
It also seems to have upset conservatives…
Why are you apologizing? You didn’t say anything wrong.
— Lisa Boothe (@LisaMarieBoothe) June 4, 2020
Disappointed to see @drewbrees apologize for his message of unity, patriotism and love of country. It has nothing to do with race. It’s disheartening you can’t even defend standing for the anthem and flag in 2020 without being eviscerated by the mob.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) June 4, 2020
Please no apology @drewbrees ; God bless and my prayers and support
— David Gardner (@UDShondo) June 4, 2020
Ya wanna disagree with @drewbrees fine? Wanna question his timing? Sure. Painting him as a racist as a result of his answer? No! Sorry, but his personal views on how he feels when the anthem is played is just that, his American right. Just as it is, Kaepernick’s to take a knee.
— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) June 4, 2020
Drew Brees apologized for saying he wouldn’t kneel for the Flag and the mob still got #DrewBreesIsCancelled trending.
The lesson: NEVER give in to the mob! They will attack you either way.
— JT Lewis (@thejtlewis) June 4, 2020
Whether Brees’ apology is sincere remains to be seen. It all depends on what actions he takes going forward.
Whether he can still be an effective quarterback/team leader also remains to be seen. That may prove to be more difficult now that he’s alienated so many of his teammates and fans alike.