“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,” Brees 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.
“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.”
On Wednesday, in an interview with Yahoo Finance‘s Daniel Roberts, Brees was asked how the NFL should respond if players decide to once again kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality in the United States — as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first did in 2016 — particularly in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Brees did not offer his support, saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America, or our country,” and describing his own experience of hearing the anthems:
“Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played or when I look at the flag of the United States,” he told Roberts. “I envision my two grandfathers — who fought for this country during World War II — one in the army and one in the marine corps, both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart and looking at that flag and singing the national anthem — that’s what I think about,” said Brees.
“And in many cases, it brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed, not just those 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. And is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and show respect to the flag with your hand over your heart is it shows unity. It shows we are all in this together. We can all do better. And we are all part of the solution.”
In his apology Thursday, Brees said the following of his support for the Black community:
“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,” his post read. “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.”