Amid anti-racism protests after George Floyd’s death, NFL star Drew Brees’ remarks trigger row
National Football League (NFL) star Drew Brees said he would not support renewed kneeling protests on Wednesday, saying to do so would be “disrespecting the flag” of the United States.
When asked about the ongoing protests, Brees told Yahoo Finance, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
“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.
“Is everything right with our country right now? No, it is not. We still have a long way to go.
Brees is the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader and one of the biggest names in the sport.
As a wave of protests against police brutality and racism sweeps across the US, many athletes have voiced support for former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who ignited controversy in 2016 by kneeling during the US national anthem.
Although the kneeling controversy largely subsided in recent NFL seasons, the issue of player activism has returned following the US protests triggered by the death in police custody last week of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man in Minneapolis.
NBA superstar LeBron James, former NBA player Stephen Jackson, and even many of Brees’ teammates slammed him for the comments.
“Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t!” James said on Twitter. “You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of (the flag) and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those.”
Jackson, who was friends with Floyd and has become one of the leading voices of protestors, also ripped into Brees.
“Bad timing, Drew Brees. Bad timing, bruh. All right? You play for New Orleans and you live in New Orleans. All them black people in New Orleans support you. Drew Brees, you gotta be a little more sensitive to the timing,” he said in a video.
Brees’ public comments were his first following the death of Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. In the week since, thousands have protested in cities throughout the US, with police often clashing with protesters and looters.
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was arrested last week and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. A second-degree murder charge against him was added Wednesday. He had pressed his knee on the neck of Floyd, a black man, for more than eight minutes.
Three other former Minneapolis police officers were charged Wednesday with abetting Chauvin.