Drew Brees Says NFL Protests Were 'Never' About the American Flag in Response to Donald Trump

Drew Brees is standing behind his apology over comments he recently made about the #TakeAKnee movement, which protests against police brutality and systemic racism, in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Although earlier this week, the New Orleans Saints quarterback, 41, came under fire for saying in an interview that he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States,” he went on to issue a lengthy apology, acknowledging that his comments “were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country.”

While many applauded the NFL player’s thoughtful message, President Donald Trump, who has a long history of criticizing the movement and the athletes who support it, said he thought Brees “should not have taken back his original stance.”

“We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag- NO KNEELING!”

In response to the president, Brees reiterated that the #TakeAKnee movement is not, and never has been, about the American flag — and that perpetuating that false narrative only serves as a distraction from "the real issues that face our black communities."

“To @realdonaldtrump,” he wrote. “Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them."

“We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when?” he continued. “We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”

As Brees explained why his earlier comments were wrong on Thursday, he apologized for making statements that did not reflect what’s really in his heart.

"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,” he wrote."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.”

In a video message specifically directed to his fans he added that he wished he “would have laid out what was on my heart in regards to the George Floyd's murder, Ahmaud Arbery, the years and years of social injustice, police brutality and the need for so much reform the change in regards to legislation and so many other things to bring equality to our black communities.”

"I am sorry, and I will do better. And I will be part of the solution and I am your ally,” he added.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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