New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said in a recent interview that he still does not support NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting” the country or its flag.
The moment came shortly after Brees was pressed by a journalist for Yahoo Finance about his thoughts on players “kneeling again when the NFL season starts” following the recent death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after a white officer kneeled on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis.
Brees said in response that he 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 Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place,” he continued.
Highlight: @readdanwrite asks @drewbrees what the star NFL quarterback thinks about "players kneeling again when the NFL season starts."@drewbrees: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Full exchange: pic.twitter.com/MpCkFyOMed— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 3, 2020
“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,” he said.
“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 Brees added that he thinks he thinks standing for the flag and “showing respect,” in turn, “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,” he added.
Brees's All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas fired back at his star quarterback on Twitter later Wednesday, "We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that," Thomas wrote.
We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 3, 2020
The Hill has reached out to the Saints for comment.
During the 2016 season, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem before games to protest racism and police brutality in the country.
Though Kaepernick was joined by a number of players on other teams in the protest, he was also targeted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? MORE and conservatives who felt their demonstrations were unpatriotic.
That season was the last Kaepernick, who remains a free agent, played in the league.
Over the past week, the conversation around Kaepernick’s protests has reignited online following Floyd’s death.
The NFL has also caught some heat in recent days after the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, released a statement responding to Floyd’s death, with some critics calling his remarks “ironic” given a policy the league issued in 2018 that banned on-field protests. The policy was later halted.