Drew Brees Controversy

Colin Kaepernick’s protest was about racist police brutality.

Jim Rome
June 04, 2020 - 9:49 am
Drew Brees

USA Today

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Yesterday, Drew Brees did an interview with Yahoo Finance. And in that interview, Drew Brees said this.

And it inspired a lot of reaction. Here’s Stephen Jackson, a friend of George Floyd.

Here’s Ed Reed.

Here’s Malcolm Jenkins, a teammate of Drew Brees.

I could go on. Because LeBron was in. And Snoop. And Saints receiver Michael Thomas. And Jamal Adams. And the list goes on.

This morning, Brees posted an apology to Instagram.

"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."

He went on to write: "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."

As far as apologies go, that was well written. Although there is some passive voice in there about “the way my comments were perceived” and you could make the argument that he seems to be more interested in making it seem like he’s a good guy instead of truly understanding the issues at stake.

He is entitled to his opinion. I always like athletes who have an opinion and express it, but in this case, that opinion is just flat out wrong. Saying that the protests had anything to do with the anthem, or the flag, or the military is wrong. Saying that they were disrespecting the flag is wrong. Period.

Brees had this stance in 2016. And he had it yesterday. Twice. Once in the interview with Yahoo Finance and he expressed a similar sentiment in a text exchange with ESPN, occasionally throwing in some all caps for emphasis. He did not misspeak.

And I’m guessing that apology was a disappointment to some of his supporters and people who really wanted him to stick to his guns on this. Because they feel the same way.

I have always enjoyed my conversations with Drew Brees. He is someone who is very careful about what he says. If he says something, a number of times, over the course of years, I’m going to take him at his word that he genuinely believes it.

Maybe he had a moment of clarity yesterday after so many people, responded so emphatically to him, but if you just figured that out in June of 2020, where have you been for the last four years? Seriously.

How is it possible that you still think in 2020 that Colin Kaepernick was disrespecting the flag? How many conversations and people did you have to ignore in order to hold onto that belief? That’s a question for Brees and for everyone else still holding onto that idea, but particularly for Brees.

We are told time and time again that locker rooms are the ultimate melting pot, but if that’s the case, after four years, how are you still holding onto that belief? How have you not engaged with the ideas and the realities of your teammates to the point that you recognize the simple truth about Colin Kaepernick’s stance?

Colin Kaepernick’s protest was about racist police brutality. It was never about the flag or the anthem or the military. I do not know how many times we have to go over this. But apparently we keep having to, because people keep trying to conflate the two.

Not only was it not about the military or the flag, but his decision to kneel was born out of a conversation with Nate Boyer, a Green Beret. IT WAS NATE BOYER, A GREEN BERET, THAT SUGGESTED THAT KAEPERNICK TAKE A KNEE. That is the degree to which he was considerate of the military and the flag during his protest. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that on this show and it still keeps coming up.

And the issue isn’t just that it’s wrong to conflate Kaepernick’s protest with disrespecting the flag or the military – it’s ignorant. And at this point, you have to wonder if it’s willfully ignorant.

Because trying to say that Kaepernick’s protest was about the anthem or the flag or the military is an attempt to ignore it. It’s an attempt to distract from it. It’s an attempt to change the subject. And it is largely done by white people who do not want to engage in the hard, uncomfortable realities that Kaepernick raised, the same reality that teammates of Drew Brees live with on a daily basis, and that we have seen time and time again on video.

And to say that it’s about respecting his grandfathers who served, is to ignore and nullify the sacrifices of the grandfathers of his teammates, who also served. And they served a country that did not welcome them back, did not support their right to vote, their right to live where they wanted, and so much more.

If Brees really did have a moment of clarity last night or this morning, that is great. If he really did some soul searching and recognized how he was minimizing and ignoring the issues that have been raised and that he was not part of the solution, great. Now I challenge the rest of you who hold the same beliefs that Drew Brees did to do the same.