Drew Brees still doesn't understand the point of protesting during the national anthem

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Drew Brees still doesn't understand the point of protesting during the national anthem 1

Drew Brees just doesn’t seem to get it.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Brees doubled down on his prior stance of disagreeing with NFL players’ protests during the national anthem.

A transcript of Brees’ quotes: 

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, and 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 Corps, both risking their lives to protect our country and to try and 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. And in many cases it brings me to tears — thinking about all that has been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s. And everyone — all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. 

And is everything right throughout our country right now? No, it’s 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, that we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution.  

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Well, a few things about Brees’ response here:

— Yahoo Sports editor Daniel Roberts, the host in the video, explicitly mentions “police brutality” and that some speculate that the kneeling during the national anthem will continue during the 2020 NFL season because of the recent killing of George Floyd. Not once does Brees mention “police brutality” in his response.

— In regard to kneeling and the common misconception of “disrespecting the troops,” Colin Kaepernick and former NFL longsnapper and United States Green Beret Nate Boyer decided it be best for Kaepernick to kneel — not sit — during the national anthem as a sign of showing that respect towards the troops. 

— It’s fine that Brees feels that way about the anthem and the flag given his familial history of military service. But in the same breath, maybe he should try to understand why his black cohorts kneel and why they may continue to do so: because they feel the freedoms that Brees’ grandfathers fought for are being threatened. 

— It’s also worth noting that Brees mentions the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but it feels more like pandering than it does an actual statement here, especially when you consider that players are kneeling to condemn those civil rights violations, police brutality and racial injustices.

Brees’ quotes drew the ire of Michael Thomas and other NFL stars, who tweeted through it Wednesday: 

As a prominent white athlete, Super Bowl-winning quarterback and one of the most forward-facing and vocal athletes in sports, Brees should understand the struggle of black Americans and stop trying to conflate “disrespecting the flag” with protesting. After all, protests are not supposed to be comfortable or convenient — they’re supposed to bring attention to issues that have long been disregarded by many as non-issues.

Interestingly enough, Brees took part in #BlackoutTuesday, a social media trend that served to show solidarity with black Americans around the country in the wake of the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

While there’s nothing wrong with feeling pride for your country or the flag, maybe Brees shouldn’t be so stubborn to not understand why players kneel for the flag. As someone who loves the idea of freedom and justice in the country, he should certainly try to listen.


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