In a lengthy Instagram post, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologized for comments made in an interview yesterday. When asked by Yahoo Finance about his position on taking a knee during the national anthem, Brees said, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. 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.”
Criticism came quickly, from sports fans, other athletes and even Brees’ own teammates.
Brees’ Instagram post apologized to “my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday,” saying that his comments “lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy.”
His statement, in full, read:
“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.”
One of his teammates, linebacker Demario Davis, spoke to CNN today and said that “for him to admit that he was wrong, I think that is leadership at its finest.”