The New Orleans quarterback received criticism for his comments about Colin Kaepernick and others who kneel during the national anthem.
Drew Brees is apologizing for his comments about fellow NFL athletes who choose to kneel at games during the national anthem. The 41-year-old New Orleans Saints quarterback gave an interview to Yahoo Finance in which he was asked about players kneeling.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees responded, noting that his two grandfathers who fought for the country during World War II. "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."
Taking a knee in protest against the systemic oppression of black people in the United States was started in 2016 by Colin Kaepernick, who some say has been blackballed from being part of any NFL team since his stance.
On Thursday, Brees spoke out in a post on his social media accounts, apologizing for his "insensitive" comments.
"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," he wrote. "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."
Brees added that his comments "lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy."
"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 continued. "I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today."
Brees also admitted he has not "done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community."
Calling himself "always" an ally, Brees added that he takes "full responsibility and accountability" for how his comments were perceived.
He concluded his post, writing, "I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness."
Later in the day, Brees posted a video so that people could see his "eyes and how sorry I am."
"The comments that I made yesterday, I know that it hurt many people," Brees said in his video. "That was never my intention."
He also wrote alongside the post: "Step-by-step you will see my heart for exactly what it is and the way everyone around me sees it. I’m sorry it has taken this long to act and to participate in a meaningful way but I am your ally in this fight."
Prior to his apology, Brees posted a message on social media calling for "unity."
"If you are reading this, you are probably one of those whose voice and influence is very powerful in the life of a young person," he wrote. "So when you ask what difference you can make in this world… It’s exactly that. Raise, teach, but most importantly model to young people what it is to love all and respect all."
"There is a saying in every locker room I have been in… Don’t just talk about it, be about it," he continued. "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.'"
Brees' apology comes after he was publicly called out by NBA star LeBron James and other athletes for his original comments.
"WOW MAN!! ??♂️. Is it still surprising at this point? Sure isn’t!" James wrote. "You literally still don't understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of [the American flag] and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free."
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