Drew Brees has officially changed his stance on whether NFL players should be allowed to kneel during the national anthem, and he made his new stance very clear on Friday in a late night social media post that was directed at President Donald Trump.
In the post on Instagram, Brees said that after talking with teammates, he now realizes that players who were kneeling during the national anthem were never trying to disrespect the flag or anything that it stands for.
“To Donald Trump, through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag,” Brees wrote. “It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.”
Brees had been facing some major backlash this week after he said on Wednesday that he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” by kneeling. Several of Brees’ teammates in New Orleans called him out for his comments, including wide receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Less than 24 hours after making the comments, Brees had an emotional meeting with his team, which led to the quarterback issuing multiple apologies.
Players who have knelt during the national anthem in the past have done it as a way to protest racial injustice and police brutality against minorities, and Brees said that he now realizes that the protesters never meant to disrespect the flag or the military.
“We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week,” Brees wrote Friday night. “We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial and prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when?”
After talking with his teammates, Brees plans to be more active in helping the black community.
“We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities,” Brees wrote. “We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”