Saints Quarterback Drew Brees Says He Will Stand for the National Anthem, But Will Support Those Who
By: Kathleen Guo
Saints Quarterback Drew Brees says we will remain standing for the National Anthem, but has respect and support for those who choose to kneel.
“I’ll always stand for the flag because of what it means to me and to honor all those who have sacrificed, who have served and died for our country, and all those who have struggled to move this country forward,” Brees said Saturday in a call with reporters to discuss the onset of training camp.
“I acknowledge and respect anyone who chooses to kneel or any other form of peaceful protest to bring attention to social injustice and systemic racism that so many have endured and continue to endure in our country,” Brees continued, adding that he “always will support and advocate for Black and brown communities in the fight for social justice.”
Drew Brees, at 41 years old, is the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing, completions and touchdowns. He is entering his 20th NFL season and 15th with the New Orleans Saints. He has adapted to restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic with new offseason training techniques aimed at improving long passes. He’s even broken his renowned finger-licking habit.
“Believe it or not, I’m telling you I have not licked my fingers in four months,” Brees said as he started to laugh.
“If I can break myself of the licking-the-fingers habit, then I think that means anybody can break themselves of any habit, because that was out of control,” he added, noting that he wouldn’t just do it while throwing a football but also while turning pages in a book, or any activity that might be more efficient with tacky finger tips.
Brees became seen by many as a symbol of white privilege for saying he would never approve of anyone disrespecting the flag by kneeling during the anthem. Those comments came while protests were proliferating across the country in response to a white Minneapolis police officer’s video-recorded killing of George Floyd.
Brees received harsh and intense backlash from several current and former Black teammates and other distinguished athletes such as LeBron James. But the quarterback apologized soon afterward and said he realizes now that protesting by kneeling during the anthem, initiated by former San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick in 2016, was never about the flag.
“To think for a second that New Orleans or the state of Louisiana, or the Black community would think I was not standing with them for social justice, that completely broke my heart. It was crushing. Never, ever would I feel that way,” Brees said Saturday in his opening statement.