New Orleans Saints quarterback and future hall-of-famer Drew Brees is being criticized for speaking up about his views on not supporting NFL players taking a knee to protest during the upcoming 2020 football season.
Amidst a time when our nation is in civil unrest with protests for racial injustice, Brees stated that he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting” the United States flag or our country and has his reasons for choosing to remain standing.
The heated topic of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem started back in 2016 when former NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick used his platform to protest against police brutality. It has become an ongoing issue and discussion among football fans since.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, Drew stated, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. Let me just tell what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. 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 this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about. And in many cases, that 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 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. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution.”
Brees, along with other influential NFL quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, shared a black square on his Instagram feed in honor of the Blackout Tuesday movement.
However, “Damn Drew” quickly became a trending topic on social media and Twitter after the Yahoo interview was posted along with backlash and critical responses by other major professional athletes such as Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Back in 2017, Brees participated alongside his teammates who knelt before the national anthem in support of those protesting police brutality. However, he stood in unison when the anthem was being played. Brees has said that he does not see the national anthem as the proper forum for that.
In response to the backlash, Brees took to social media and responded with a message of unity: “A mentor of mine once told me that if you listen closely, the sound of children playing is the same no matter where you are in the world. The laughing, shouting, screaming, giggling… no matter what language you speak, no matter what your race, color, religion… the exact same.”
Brees continued, “There is a saying in every locker room I have been in… Don’t just talk about it, be about it. Acknowledge the problem and accept the fact that we all have a responsibility to make it better. ‘Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.'”