Drew Brees, the star quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, was forced to apologize on Thursday for saying that he would never agree with someone “disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.”
Brees took to Instagram 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.”
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Brees gave an interview to Yahoo Finance on Wednesday—during massive unrest in the country—and was asked about his family’s service in the military. He told the news website that standing for the anthem, with your hand over your heart, is a sign of unity.
“It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution,” he said.
The remarks were blasted on social media and “Damn Drew” even trended on Twitter. Many of his teammates criticized his comments. NOLA.com reported that protesters in the city chanted “F—k Drew Brees.”
Malcolm Jenkins, one of his teammates, said, “If you don’t understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments are, you’re part of the problem.”
He continued, “Years ago when we were trying to signal for help, signal for our allies and our white brothers and sisters– people we consider to be friends– to get involved. It was ignored.”
Brees clarified on Thursday that he stands with the black community in “the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and supports the creation of real policy change that will make a difference.”
NOLA.com reported that it appeared that some on social media refused to accept Brees’ apology. #DrewBreesIsCancelled was trending on Twitter as well as “Nah Drew.”
Earlier in the week, an announcer for the Sacramento Kings resigned from his job after tweeting “All Lives Matter.”
Todd Starnes, the host of the “Todd Starnes Radio Show,” raised concern about the backlash that Brees received over remarks about respecting the flag. Brees has been a fixture in New Orleans and one of the most charitable athletes in the city.
“So it’s officially racist to be patriotic,” he wrote.