Brees, 41, who is the NFL’s all-time leader in assists, completes and touchdowns, is entering his 20th season in the NFL and his 15th with the New Orleans Saints.
Brees became seen by many as a symbol of white privilege when he reiterated his long-standing opposition to anyone kneeling during the national anthem, saying he would never approve of anyone disrespecting the flag. The comments came as protests proliferated across the country in response to the videotaped murder of a white Minneapolis policeman of George Floyd, who is black.
Brees faced a scathing backlash from several current and former black teammates and other top athletes such as LeBron James. But the quarterback apologized soon after and said he now realized that to protest by kneeling during the anthem, initiated by former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, was “never a question of the flag”.
The week-long imbroglio placed Brees at the center of a nationwide maelstrom and made him the target of no less than Donald Trump, who targeted the future Hall of Fame quarterback in a series of tweets: “I am a huge fan of Drew Brees. I think he truly is one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he shouldn’t have returned to his original position of honoring our magnificent American flag. OLD GLORY is to be worshiped, cherished and held high… We should stand up straight and straight, ideally with a salute, or a hand over our heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our great American flag – NOT AGREE! ”
Brees revisited his June comments and regret making them on Saturday.
“To think for a second that New Orleans or the state of Louisiana, or the black community would think I wasn’t with them for social justice, it broke my heart completely. It was overwhelming. I would never, ever feel this way, ”Brees said.
“I admit I missed an opportunity that day. I have had the opportunity to speak and highlight the social injustices that exist for our black community and our need as a country to support them and advocate for systemic change. And my lack of awareness at that time hurt a lot of people.
Brees added that he had had many conversations with his teammates since then and especially in the last few days and that they had “reconciled and put an end to everything that came from the past, and we are moving forward. to focus on the social justice issues we face. country. ”
Brees picked safety Malcolm Jenkins, who had been among his toughest critics on social media ahead of Brees’ public apology, saying, “I’m a friend of Malcolm’s, I’m his teammate and I’m his ally. There are a lot of things that we discuss to work on together. All of our goals are aligned. “