By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had posted a written and video apology for his "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag or our country" comment during an interview on Wednesday. In those apologies, Brees explained that it wasn't his intent to hurt anyone but that he was learning from friends, family, and teammates that his words were dismissive of the perspectives of those whose "American Experience" wasn't as baseball-and-apple-pie as Brees' was. Apparently, one person who isn't a big fan of Brees broadening his personal horizons is President Donald Trump. Taking to Twitter because clearly everything else in the country is running smoothly, Trump tweeted his displeasure with Brees' change of heart with the following post that had nothing to do with throwing red meat to the small, rabid dog base that still clings on to him:
I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he's truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high… We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!
Well, it looks like the future Hall-of-Famer wasn't in the mood to get called out by someone with questionable bone spurs because Brees took to Instagram to address a message directly to Donald. With an education from those around him, Brees says he realizes that "this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been." He continues with a line that sounds directly aimed at Trump while also taking responsibility for his actions this week: "We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week." Here's a look at Brees' post to Trump, followed by his video apology from earlier today.
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To @realdonaldtrump Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation's history! If not now, then when? We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.
During his interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, Brees referenced his family's history of U.S. military service as one of the foundations for his belief. Following his initial statement, Brees continued: "And is everything right with our country right now? No, it's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better, and that we are all part of the solution."
Highlight: @readdanwrite asks @drewbrees what the star NFL quarterback thinks about "players kneeling again when the NFL season starts."@drewbrees: "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country."
Full exchange: pic.twitter.com/MpCkFyOMed
— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 3, 2020
Early Thursday morning, Brees looked to clarify his comments and play a little public relations clean-up, responding to the controversy via Instagram with a lengthy post punctuated with a stock image that brought back memories of Rocky III. Some are still calling into question how Brees was able to "find Jesus" so quickly and if this was just a move to protect his image and endorsement deals. Others wonder if Brees isn't trying to push some of the blame off as a misunderstanding with this line included near the end: "I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability."
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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.