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Drew Brees apologizes, says he "completely missed the mark" in comments about kneeling protests

Emmanuel Acho talks about race in America

Drew Brees has apologized Thursday after receiving backlash for comments he made about not backing potential NFL player protests during the national anthem. New Orleans quarterback said in an Instagram post that his "comments were insensitive and completely missed the mark." 

After criticism from fans and other athletes on social media, Brees expressed remorse over his remarks. 

"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," he said. "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."

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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

Amid the demonstrations nationwide over the death of George Floyd, Brees drew ire online after he responded to a question about whether the NFL should support players kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest against police brutality. 

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

Kneeling during the national anthem in protest against police brutality and racial disparities in the U.S. was popularized by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He faced harsh criticism for his actions both from within the NFL and from outside observers, including President Trump. 

However, other NFL players joined in with the protest, which spread to other professional sports leagues and has been embraced by protesters and sometimes law enforcement members in the wake of George Floyd's death. 

NBA star LeBron James said Brees didn't get the point of Kaepernick's protest. Brees' teammate and favorite target on the field, star wide receiver Michael Thomas, also chimed in to rebuke his own quarterback. "We don't care if you don't agree and whoever else how about that," he wrote

The 19-year NFL veteran said he stands with the black community "in the fight against systemic racial injustice." He also acknowledges that he has "not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community."

"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," he said. "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."

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