Drew Brees issued an apology not long after drawing passionate backlash over comments he made. The country and world as a whole is in a state of civil unrest following the death of George Floyd. Floyd, 46, died while in the custody of Minneapolis Police and four officers involved have been terminated by the department and charged by the attorney general for their respective role in his death, which includes Derek Chauvin -- the officer seen kneeling on Floyd's neck despite his cries of "I can't breathe" -- who was charged Wednesday with an additional count of second-degree murder, on top of a third-degree murder charge. He's scheduled to be in court Monday. While protests and riots sweep the country, Brees was asked his stance on it all, and he definitely answered.
More specifically, the Saints quarterback was asked his opinion on Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel, seeing as the gesture was in silent protest to the very social injustice that fueled the death of Floyd. , in that he still believes the kneeling was actually about the national anthem, and made it clear he will never support "disrespecting the flag" -- a comment that led to teammates like Michael Thomas and Malcolm Jenkins to join other teammates in railing against Brees on social media.
One day later, Brees offered the following apology on Instagram, hoping to smooth things over with everyone.
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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.
And shortly after his written apology, he issued one in video form.
Thomas quickly weighed in on the apology.
"One of my brothers made a public statement yesterday that I disagreed with," Thomas wrote on Twitter. "He apologized & I accept it because that's what we are taught to do as Christians. Now back to the movement! #GeorgeFloyd"
Time will tell how the apology is received in the locker room.
Jenkins, readying for his return to New Orleans in 2020, even went as far as releasing a now-deleted video that openly tore into Brees' stance, reminding him Kaepernick's kneeling had nothing at all to do with the national anthem and advising him to "shut the f--- up" if he doesn't understand the plight of African-Americans as it relates to police brutality and social injustice. The veteran safety would double back and release the following video, re-addressing his stance on Brees' comments with a different framing of words.
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
Jenkins is a well-established and driven leader in the community, be it in Philadelphia where he's returning from, or in New Orleans itself; and his and Thomas' replies were only the tip of the iceberg.
Brees' teammates were joined by NBA megastar LeBron James and even legendary New Orleans actor Wendell Pierce, along with a slew of other athletes and social activists, in condemning the quarterback's statements. On a day when Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott toward police reform and "addressing systemic racism," the timing of Brees' comments only added gasoline to an already blazing inferno.
There will now undoubtedly have to be conversations that happen behind closed doors to mend fences in the Saints locker room, and they'll likely begin immediately.