The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing uprisings have lent additional validation to Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem protests. When professional sports resumes and the NFL season starts, it's likely that more athletes will follow Kaepernick's lead by kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner."
During a conversation with Yahoo Finance, Drew Brees made it clear he won't be in solidarity with those who choose to do so.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," the Saints quarterback said. He went on to explain the emotions he feels when the National Anthem is played.
"I envision my two grandfathers who fought for this country during World War II," Brees continued. "In many cases, it brings me to tears thinking about all that's been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the Civil Rights movements of the 60s and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point."
Brees' response to the National Anthem protest is the grave misunderstanding that has accompanied Kaepernick since he started to kneel. Initially Kaep began his protest by sitting during the National Anthem. But it was former Green Beret and NFL long snapper Nate Boyer who advised Kaepernick to kneel instead of sitting to show respect for the troops. Kaepernick obliged due to the regard he has for veterans.
Colin's issue is not with the American flag. Since the beginning, Kaep has explicitly stated that he's protesting the over-militarization of police forces and police brutality.
LeBron James was perhaps the most prominent figure to call out the quarterback. "WOW MAN!! 🤦🏾♂️. Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of 🇺🇸 and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those men who fought as well for this country. I asked him question about it and thank him all the time for his commitement. He never found Kap peaceful protest offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong! God bless you."
While he didn't name Brees, teammate Michael Thomas appeared to address the QB's comments on Twitter, writing, "He don’t know no better," following that up with, "We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that."
He then threw a nauseous emoji onto a retweet of writer Mark Freeman's remark, "How can anyone watch George Floyd get murdered and their first response when asked about it is ResPEcC tHe fLAg."
Alvin Kamara and Emmanuel Sanders also shared cryptic tweets:
Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has long been vocal about inequality, posted a blistering video aimed directly at Brees.
"I considered you a friend," he said. "I looked up to you, you're someone I had a great deal of respect for, but sometimes you should shut the f*ck up."
Aaron Rodgers took to Instagram, and though he didn't mention Brees by name, it seems clear that his post was a reaction to his fellow QB's comments.
Richard Sherman was more direct in his response. "He’s beyond lost," he wrote in a quote tweet. "Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn’t seem to be about that. That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Josh Jacobs also gave a retweet and an admonitory note about Bree's opinion:
Former Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin Jr. also chimed in.
Killer Mike joined Jalen & Jacoby, where he held nothing back in his criticism of Brees.
6lack also tweeted a scathing response to Brees' comments.
And here's what Isaiah Rashad had to say.
Stephen Jackson, a friend of George Floyd who has been speaking up about his killing, also commented. "Shoutout Michael Thomas, man," Jackson said in a video posted to IG. "Way to hold Drew Brees accountable, Mike. I don't give a damn if he throws you all those touchdowns, hold his ass accountable. Bad timing, Drew Brees, bad timing. You play in New Orleans, and you live in New Orleans. All them black people in New Orleans that support you, Drew Brees you gotta be a little more sensitive to the timing, bruh. You can't saying shit out your ass.
Brees followed up his comments by sharing a statement with ESPN. "I love and respect my teammates and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice," he said. "I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis."
Brees' remarks come as the QB shared support for those seeking a change. He participated in #BlackoutTuesday as well as shared a post seeking unity across the nation.
"Words to unite.. A mentor of mine once told me that if you listen closely, the sound of children playing is the same no matter where you are in the world. The laughing, shouting, screaming, giggling… No matter what language you speak, no matter what your race, color, religion… the exact same," Brees captioned an Instagram post.
"At some point we all change," he continued. "So when you ask what difference you can make in this world… It’s exactly that. Raise, teach, but most importantly model to young people what it is to love all and respect all."