Drew Brees has officially changed his stance on whether NFL players should be allowed to kneel during the national anthem, and he made his new stance very clear on Friday in a late night social media post that was directed at President Donald Trump.
In the post on Instagram, Brees said that after talking with teammates, he now realizes that players who were kneeling during the national anthem were never trying to disrespect the flag or anything that it stands for.
"To Donald Trump, through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag," Brees wrote. "It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities."
Brees had been facing some major backlash this week after he"never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag" by kneeling. Several of Brees' teammates in New Orleans called him out for his comments, including wide receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Less than 24 hours after making the comments, Brees had an emotional meeting with his team, which led to the quarterback.
When Brees addressed the team during Thursday’s meeting his teammates saw him in a very emotional state. They could tell it hurt him to hurt them, which mattered. He had tears in his eyes as he apologized.— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) June 6, 2020
His actions since then continue to support what he said on Thursday.
Players who have knelt during the national anthem in the past have done it as a way to protest racial injustice and police brutality against minorities, and Brees said that he now realizes that the protesters never meant to disrespect the flag or the military.
"We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week," Brees wrote Friday night. "We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial and prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation's history! If not now, then when?"
After talking with his teammates, Brees plans to be more active in helping the black community.
"We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities," Brees wrote. "We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us."
Brees directed his message on Friday at Trump, because the president called him out on Twitter and told him that he should not have apologized for the original comments that were made on Wednesday.
"I am a big fan of Drew Brees," Trump wrote. "I think he's truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high. We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag - NO KNEELING!"
Trump's tweet clearly compelled Brees to respond, because the quarterback sent out his tweet to Trump less than six hours later.
If Brees' original remarks caused any strife in the Saints locker room, it seems that he's now been forgiven. Thomas was one of the first people to laud Brees after the quarterback sent his message to Trump on Friday night.
Although it's unclear if any Saints players will be kneeling during the national anthem this season, there definitely will be at least one high-profile player taking a knee, and that's because Adrian Peterson has already made it known that he.