Lebron James and More Slam Drew Brees for National Anthem Remarks

NFL quarterback Drew Brees can add one more fumble to his career total.

The New Orleans Saints star is the latest public figure to spark backlash over his comments surrounding his beliefs on the National Anthem and the United States flag. 

On Wednesday, Yahoo Finance interviewed Brees and asked him about his stance on the recent nationwide protests in response to George Floyd‘s death, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on Monday, May 25.

“I think my response via social media today was basically to reinforce my belief that God created us all equal and I think that we all have a responsibility to love each other and to respect each other,” Brees said. “I think that we accomplish greater things as a community, as a society and as country when we do it together.”

When asked about NFL players participating in Colin Kaepernick‘s “take a knee” National Anthem protest against police brutality, Brees shared his thoughts.

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the National Anthem is played,” he stated. “I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II—one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps—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,” he continued. “And in many cases, in brings me to tears thinking about all that has been sacrificed—not just those in the military—but… those throughout the Civil Rights Movements of the ’60s and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.”

While Brees pointed out that things in our country aren’t “right” during this time, he also expressed how important the National Anthem is to him.

“I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag, with your hand over your heart, is it shows union,” he stated.

Soon after his video interview made the rounds online, many athletes called Brees out. 

LeBron James wrote, “WOW MAN!! Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those.”

Adding, “Men who fought as well for this country. I asked him question about it and thank him all the time for his commitment. 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.”

NFL stars Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty also responded to Brees’ comments.

“This is a disgrace! To speak about your grandfathers as if there weren’t black men fighting next to them,” the brothers’ joint statement read. “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 what’s right!”

Additionally, Aaron Rodgers pointed out Brees’ hypocrisy. 

“A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game. It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag,” Rodgers wrote on Instagram, alongside an image of players locking arms during an NFL game. “Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action.”

Richard Sherman also spoke out: “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.”

“How can you be in the locker rooms, speaking to the players, know the reasoning, and yet still be dumb enough to believe it’s about the flag. Like HOW???? He should know better than that. He just doesn’t care. Damn man not Drew…,” Damon Harrison Sr. shared on Twitter.

He added, “Like HOW?????? Im just wondering about those fake conversations he had in that locker room with his teammates at the height of it all.”

As some have pointed out, including Rodgers, Brees may have not agreed with taking a knee but he was vocal about supporting Kaepernick and his decision to speak up about the racial injustice.

In regards to the backlash surrounding his comments, Brees issued a statement obtained by ESPN.

“I love and respect my teammates, and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice,” Brees said. “I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis.”

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