New Orleans star QB Drew Brees issues apology

Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He’s an icon in New Orleans after serving as the Saints’ franchise cornerstone for more than a decade, leading the Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2010.

However, he picked the wrong time on Wednesday to express his views on the American flag and the national anthem. During an interview with Yahoo Finance, Brees was asked to revisit Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protest of police brutality against the black community.

Brees responded by saying, “I’ll never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America. I love and respect my teammates, and I stand right there with them in regard to fighting for racial equality and justice. 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.”

Bad timing? To say the least. Tone deaf after everything that’s transpired in this country over the last 10 days? No doubt about it.

The backlash was instant. Current and retired athletes like LeBron James, Ed Reed, Daniel Cormier and Stephen Jackson expressed their frustration and disappointment on various social media platforms.

Malcolm Jenkins, who played with Brees for five seasons and signed with the Saints again in March after a six-year stint in Philadelphia, was emotional in an Instagram video reacting to Brees’s remarks.

“Drew Brees, if you don’t understand how hurtful and how insensitive your comments are, you are a part of the problem,” Jenkins said. “To think that your grandfathers served in this country and you have a great respect for the flag and that everybody else should have the same ideals and thoughts that you do is ridiculous. And it shows that you don’t know history.

“Our communities are under siege, and we need help. And what you’re telling us is don’t ask for help that way. Ask for it a different way. I can’t listen to it when you ask that way. We’re done asking, Drew. And people who share your sentiments, who express those and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are the problem.

“And it’s unfortunate because I considered you a friend. I looked up to you. You’re somebody who I had a great deal of respect for. But sometimes you should shut the f— up.”

Jenkins got choked up multiple times while making the video. This wasn’t a player trying to divide a locker room — it was a black man stunned and disappointed with the words of a white man.

Brees issued an apology this morning in an Instagram post.

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.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

Reaction to Brees’s apology was mixed. Whether the Saints can put Wednesday’s controversy in the rearview mirror between now and Week 1 in September remains to be seen.

5Dimes took New Orleans’ season win total off the board. Sportsbook had the Saints at 10.5 wins (‘over’ -115, ‘under’ -105).

The Saints had 12/1 odds to win Super Bowl LV at 5Dimes. Only the Ravens (+600), Chiefs (+625) and 49ers (+900) had shorter odds.

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