Donald Trump says Saints QB Drew Brees 'hurt himself very badly' by apologising for anthem comments
Last Updated: 19/06/20 12:21pm
US president Donald Trump says New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees "hurt himself very badly" by apologising for criticising those who kneel during the anthem.
Brees was forced to apologise after saying earlier this month he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America" when asked how he felt about players kneeling during the anthem in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25.
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His Saints team-mate Michael Thomas, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and NBA superstar LeBron James were among many prominent athletes to publicly rebuke him.
In his apology, Brees admitted his comments "lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy" and were "divisive" and "hurtful".
Trump immediately criticised Brees' apology on Twitter and he again took aim at the 13-time Pro Bowl quarterback during an interview on Thursday night with his son Donald Trump Jr for his own YouTube channel.
Asked how he felt about Brees "cowering to the mob" by backtracking on his original remarks, Trump replied: "So, I watched his first statement, which was a beautiful statement - proud of the flag, proud of the country, proud of everything. He talked about his father and grandfather serving [in the military].
"And then the following day it was almost like 'I take it back'. I was shocked because I consider him a great football player and I consider him a champion and a star. I did not understand what was going on. I have never seen anything like it.
"I think he hurt himself very badly and I was going to put out that he will regret that in future years because you stand for the flag.
"You have to stand for the flag and for the anthem and I think the NFL is going to have a lot of problems if they don't."
Trump also expressed disappointment in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for admitting the league was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier" and saying the NFL will "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest" in the wake of Floyd's death.
"I was very surprised - I like Roger Goodell - but I was very shocked that he made that statement," Trump said.
"It did not even look like there was any pressure on him. He made it out of nowhere in summertime. What is he doing? Why is he doing that?
"So I was disappointed with Roger Goodell and I was very disappointed with Drew Brees because he is a warrior and he just caved under the pressure.
"You know a lot of warriors cave under PR pressure. His manager said 'oh, this is not right' and his team-mates said 'oh, this is not right' and all of a sudden he is out there disclaiming about the flag and the country.
"I don't believe he believes his second statement. He should have fought through it."
Trump also predicted problems for the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), following its decision to repeal its ban on players kneeling during the national anthem.
"I think the same thing about US Soccer," Trump continued. "They said they are not going to have to stand. Well, if they don't stand nobody is going to want to watch it and I think they will have a lot of problems."