New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is apologizing for comments he made earlier in the week in which he said he would not support players who protest against police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem. Brees was asked how he would feel if, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, players began taking a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner, as Colin Kaepernick did back in 2016.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America," Brees said during an interview with Yahoo! Finance. "Is everything right with our country right now? No, it is not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity."
His comments sparked an immediate backlash from his teammates, as well as other athletes, including LeBron James and Stephen Jackson.
"You literally still don't understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free," James tweeted. "My father-in-law was one of those."
On Thursday (June 4), Brees issued a lengthy apology on Instagram.
"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," Brees wrote.