On Wednesday, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees made headlines when he spoke about players potentially kneeling during future renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" following the killing of George Floyd, the unarmed African American man who died while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
Brees told Yahoo Finance:
"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 Corp. 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 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.”
Teammate and New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas wasn't thrilled with Brees after that interview went public:
He don’t know no better.— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 3, 2020
We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 3, 2020
men who fought as well for this country. I asked him question about it and thank him all the time for his commitement. He never found Kap peaceful protest offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong! God bless you. ✊— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said that Brees was "beyond lost" via the social media platform:
He’s beyond lost. Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn’t seem to be about that. That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem https://t.co/ON81UsOWPw pic.twitter.com/HH3EVTIH8p— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) June 3, 2020
This is a disgrace! To speak about your grandfathers as if there weren’t black men fighting next to them.Those men later returned to a country that hated them. Don’t avoid the issue and try to make it about a flag or the military. Fight like your grandfathers for whats right! https://t.co/qag3Igic3V— Devin&Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) June 3, 2020
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs simply said, "This ain't it":
Peter Rosenberg of ESPN New York 98.7 inducted Brees into the "You're missing the point white privilege hall of fame club" (language warning):
WWE performer Mustafa Ali, a former police officer, seemed to address Brees' words when he wrote: "You’re not ignorant if you don’t know. You’re ignorant when you refuse to know."