Drew Brees criticised by Michael Thomas and LeBron James for comments about disrespecting American flag
Last Updated: 11/06/20 3:15pm
Drew Brees has been criticised by several high-profile sports stars including team-mate Michael Thomas and NBA star LeBron James after saying he will "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America".
Protests have continued across America following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. Floyd died on May 25 after a white police officer, who has since been charged with his murder, held him down by pressing a knee into his neck.
Asked in an interview with Yahoo whether he thought there may be a rise in players kneeling during the anthem in a show of solidarity, Brees said: "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America."
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 https://t.co/pvUWPmh4s8— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
The quarterback faced a backlash on social media for the comments, with James saying kneeling during the anthem "Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of [America] and our soldiers". Saints team-mate Thomas - who did not specifically name Brees - posted "He don't know no better" followed by "We don't care if you don't agree and whoever else how about that".
Brees later posted a picture on Instagram that said: "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love."
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A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game. It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action. #wakeupamerica #itstimeforchange #loveoverfear❤️ #solidarity #libertyandjusticeforall #all
However, when approached by ESPN to clarify his initial comments about disrespecting the flag, Brees' stance had not softened.
"I love and respect my team-mates and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice," Brees 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."
He’s beyond lost. 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 https://t.co/ON81UsOWPw pic.twitter.com/HH3EVTIH8p— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) June 3, 2020
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman was another who condemned Brees' comments. "He's beyond lost," Sherman wrote. "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."
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on Instagram: "It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let's educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action."
Former NFL wide receiver Doug Baldwin Jr tweeted "@drewbrees the reason my children have to live in a world that won't empathize with their pain is because people like you are raising your children to perpetuate the cycle. Drew, you are the problem."
Malcolm Jenkins, another of Brees' Saints teammates, also posted a video on social media explaining why he had been hurt by the quarterback's comments.
This was after he deleted an original video in which he stated: "And it's unfortunate because I considered you a friend, I looked up to you, you're someone I had a great deal of respect for."
I recorded a few videos when thinking of how to respond to Drew Brees, I don’t take any of it back-I meant what I said-I removed the 1st video because I knew it be more about the headlines. I want people to understand how those of us struggling with what’s going on feel pic.twitter.com/T054qt0YEz— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) June 3, 2020
In his second post Jenkins said: "Here we are, in 2020, with the whole country on fire, everybody witnessing a black man dying-being murdered-at the hands of the police, just in cold blood, for everybody to see and the first thing that you do is criticise one's peaceful protest?
"That was years ago, when we were trying to signal a sign for help, and signal for our allies and our white brothers and sisters, the people we consider to be friends, to get involved. It was ignored."