NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologized Thursday for his comments against kneeling during the national anthem after he received sharp criticism from fellow athletes, including some of his own teammates.
“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,” he said in an Instagram post. “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.”
Brees’ initial remarks came during an interview with Yahoo in which he was asked to revisit former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protest of police brutality against minorities.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States,” Brees said then, adding that the national anthem reminds him of his grandfathers, who served in the armed forces during World War II. “In many cases, it brings me to tears thinking about all that has been sacrificed, and not just in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.”
Jenkins was Brees’ teammate when the Saints won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season, but spent the past six seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before returning to New Orleans this offseason.
Brees has said he supports those protesting police brutality but that he does not see the national anthem as the proper forum for that. In 2017, Brees participated with teammates who knelt before the national anthem, but then stood in unison when the anthem was played.
Since the interview, many teammates, fellow athletes and celebrities have responded on social media.