Culture

NFL QB Drew Brees Makes Uncontroversial Comments, Gets Canceled Anyway

AP Photo/Butch Dill

Cancel culture has struck the NFL again. This time, New Orleans QB Drew Brees has been forced to capitulate to the outrage mob. In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, apparently it has become insensitive for an NFL player to express support for the American flag. Brees found out the hard way on Wednesday and issued an apology Thursday—after issuing a similarly non-controversial explanation of his comments to ESPN.

Daniel Roberts of Yahoo! Finance asked Brees on Wednesday, June 3, how he felt about flag protests around the NFL in the wake of the protests that have become riots and looting over the past week:

Perhaps owing to the truncated nature of the headline available under Twitter character limits, the vast majority of the world reacted to that one out-of-context sentence without hearing Brees’ full statement. What he actually said:

I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. 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.

A message of unity, that we are all in this together, that we can do better, a spirit of aspiration that we can get it right—that got distorted by a stupid Twitter headline designed to get clicks. For that, Drew Brees was, in essence, sent to a reeducation camp. Thanks, in part, to Yahoo! Finance and this click-bait tweet.

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Sports stars, including some of Brees’ teammates, reacted swiftly.

Later Wednesday evening, Brees appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter to talk about the controversy about his comments. He said,

I love and respect my teammates, and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice. I believe we should all stand for the national anthem and respect our country and all those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms. That includes all those who marched for women’s suffrage in the 1920s and all those who marched in the civil rights movements and continue to march for racial equality. All of us … EVERYONE … represent that flag. Same way I respect all the citizens of our country … no matter their race, color, religion.

Malcolm Jenkins, choking up while relating the experience of many African-Americans who returned from World War II to face abuse at home, made a powerful point. Black soldiers didn’t get the hero’s welcome white soldiers did. And yet, nothing Brees said in either of his interviews on Wednesday invalidates or disputes those experiences. Indeed, he expressed support for his NFL teammates and their struggle for equal justice.

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No matter. These days, if you don’t show explicit support for Black Lives Matter and every radical leftist proposal to end systemic racism, you get branded with the Scarlet R. No sin so fundamental will ever be forgiven.

So, of course, Drew Brees capitulated and issued the requisite apology. His teammates subsequently lauded him as a leader. And Brees can continue on as a quarterback in the NFL.

View this post on Instagram

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. 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. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character. This is where I stand: 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. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

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.
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. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.
This is where I stand:

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.
I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today.
I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community.
I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement.
I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right.
I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy.
I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.
For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.

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