Drew Brees is under fire, and even his own teammates are joining in on the action.In an interview with Yahoo published Wednesday, the prolific New Orleans Saints quarterback said he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
His comments, which came in response to the interviewer inquiring about a potential new wave of kneeling while the national anthem is played prior to NFL games, garnered near-immediate blowback as protests continue over the death of George Floyd.Big names across the world of sports took to social media to condemn Brees’ stance, but newly-minted teammate Malcolm Jenkins was perhaps the most assertive and blunt of them all.
In a video published Wednesday afternoon, the Saints safety — who rejoined the team in March after a six-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles — said, in no uncertain terms, that the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing yards “should shut the f— up.”
“Our communities are under siege and we need help,” Jenkins said. “And what you’re telling us is ‘Don’t ask for help that way. Ask for it a different way. I can’t listen to it when you ask that way.'””We’re done asking, Drew,” he added. “People who share your sentiments, who express those and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are the problem.”
Malcolm Jenkins (center) stands with his eyes closed as the national anthem plays.
Jenkins then said these revelations about Brees’ opinion on kneeling “are unfortunate” because “I considered you a friend, I looked up to you, you’re someone I had a great deal of respect for.”Though Jenkins deleted the original video featuring the curse, he later posted a new one saying “even though we’re teammates, I can’t let this slide.”
Check out Jenkins’ original comments below:—Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 3, 2020 In the original interview, Brees said that by standing in honor of the flag during the national anthem, he intends to honor more than just current troops and military veterans. He said that the gesture serves to acknowledge “all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.””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,” he added. “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.”
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He also acknowledged that “we still have a long way to go” but called for unity to overcome the issues the United States is currently facing.
“Is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not,” Brees said. “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, we can all do better, and that we are all part of the solution.”In light of Jenkins and others criticizing his viewpoint, Brees told ESPN’s Mike Triplett via text that “I would ask anyone who has a problem with what I said to look at the way I live my life.”
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“Do I come across as someone who is not doing my absolute best to make this world a better place, to bring justice and equality to others, and hope & opportunity to those who don’t have it?” the quarterback asked. “That’s what I meant by actions speak louder than words. … My ACTIONS speak for themselves.”Still, Brees didn’t apologize or relent on his original statement.
“I believe we should all stand for the national anthem and respect our country and all those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms,” he told Triplett. “That includes all those who marched for women’s suffrage in the 1920s and all those who marched in the civil rights movements and continue to march for racial equality. All of us … EVERYONE … represent that flag. Same way I respect all the citizens of our country … no matter their race, color, religion.”
The conversation about kneeling to raise awareness of police brutality in America has taken on new life as outrage surrounding Floyd’s death boiled over nationwide this week. White former police officer Derek Chauvin suffocated Floyd — an unarmed black man — by kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes while arresting him under suspicions of using a fake $20.Floyd died of asphyxiation, while Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder. The other three officers at the scene were charged with aiding and abetting murder.