Drew Brees’s Unchanged Stance on Kneeling Is Suddenly Out of Step

Written by on June 4, 2020

The fury unleashed on Drew Brees got here quick. The New Orleans Saints quarterback said in an interview Wednesday that he would by no means agree with N.F.L. gamers who knelt through the nationwide anthem to protest police brutality, and he was instantly condemned.

A bunch of gamers, together with a few of his teammates, responded with statements of their very own, calling Brees’s feedback hurtful and criticizing him for ignorance of or callousness to the struggles of African-People.

“Drew Brees, you don’t perceive how hurtful, how insensitive your feedback are,” Malcolm Jenkins, Brees’s teammate, mentioned in a video posted to Twitter. “I’m upset, I’m damage, as a result of whereas the world tells you, ‘You aren’t worthy,’ that your life doesn’t matter, the final place you need to hear it from are the blokes you go to struggle with and that you just contemplate to be your allies and your mates.

“Though we’re teammates, I can’t let this slide.”

The backlash to Brees comes throughout per week by which a variety of gamers have been talking out on the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis and racial injustice.

On Thursday evening, gamers posted a montage of a few of the league’s largest stars — together with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Cowboys working again Ezekiel Elliott — calling on the N.F.L. to sentence racism and admit that silencing gamers from peacefully protesting is mistaken, an obvious reference to the Colin Kaepernick affair. (The N.F.L. said on Instagram on Thursday that it stands “with the black neighborhood as a result of Black Lives Matter.”)

However the backlash Brees acquired was notable not simply because it focused one of many league’s premier gamers, however as a result of it broke an unwritten rule that teammates vent their private variations in personal, extolling the primacy of the crew in public.



Brees had made comparable remarks in 2016, when he criticized Kaepernick for initially protesting social and racial injustice by sitting through the nationwide anthem.

4 years in the past, a small group of gamers overtly supported Kaepernick and joined his protest, after a lot deliberation over his technique and message. Now, the ferocity of the response to Brees’s feedback is an indication of how what was as soon as a 3rd rail challenge within the league — acknowledging racially pushed violence and systemic racism — has turn into a obligatory dialog to be supported, if not outright embraced, not simply by African-American gamers, but additionally by white gamers, coaches and house owners.

Not like in 2016, when the league struggled to deal with the wave of police shootings headlined that yr by that of Philando Castile, the video of George Floyd’s killing whereas in police custody has occurred at a time when the N.F.L. is extra proactive about addressing the problem.

On Saturday, the league and plenty of crew house owners, together with those that beforehand mentioned little or opposed Kaepernick’s protest, issued statements. For his or her half, gamers, like a lot of the nation, have been outspoken in condemning the established order, and have carried out so with out public retribution — a rarity in a league the place the norm is to keep away from any commentary which may draw uncomfortable headlines.

“The existence of the protests worldwide and in all 50 states has offered cowl for the gamers to say issues, they usually have taken benefit of that cowl,” mentioned Jay Coakley, a sociologist and creator of the textbook, “Sports activities in Society: Points and Controversies.”

The act of kneeling in protest through the anthem remains to be topic to laissez-faire oversight, as it’s nonetheless not technically allowed by league coverage. In Could 2018, the N.F.L. owners said that players could no longer kneel through the nationwide anthem with out being topic to punishment or their groups going through doable monetary penalties. Gamers might, nonetheless, keep within the locker room through the pregame ceremony, when the anthem is performed.

However after the N.F.L. Players Association filed a grievance difficult the choice, the league by no means enforced the coverage. Final yr, a number of gamers, together with Eric Reid and Kenny Stills, continued to kneel through the enjoying of the anthem and weren’t penalized by the league.

On Thursday, Brees walked back his position in a post on Instagram, saying his earlier feedback had been “insensitive and utterly missed the mark.” Brees additionally requested for forgiveness and mentioned that he took full duty for his phrases.

“I acknowledge that I ought to do much less speaking and extra listening … and when the black neighborhood is speaking about their ache, all of us must hear,” he wrote.

A number of gamers praised Brees for his apology, together with Demario Davis, a Saints linebacker. Brees’s apology “is a type of true management and I might say it as a result of that’s taking possession,” Davis said on CNN. “It’s not straightforward to return out and admit whenever you’re mistaken.”

Brees’s offensive teammate, Alvin Kamara, a Saints working again, additionally appeared to welcome the apology. “We talked and I defined to him the place he dropped the ball and he understood,” Kamara wrote on Twitter. “However now it’s time for us to be a part of the answer, not the issue.”

Many others is probably not so fast to forgive or neglect.

Trayvon Mullen Jr., a cornerback for the Las Vegas Raiders, wrote on Twitter, “September 21,” the date his crew is scheduled to play Brees’s Saints.

Some gamers have pointed again to 2016 as a method of calling out gamers who’ve been sanctimonious of their criticism of Brees. After Aaron Rodgers, the Inexperienced Bay Packers quarterback, appeared to take goal at Brees’s in an Instagram post on Wednesday, Martellus Bennett, Rodgers’s former teammate, mentioned that many white gamers had been silent just a few years in the past when Kaepernick opened the dialogue on police brutality. Bennett was one of many gamers to take a knee, protesting through the 2017 season he spent in Inexperienced Bay. Rodgers linked arms together with his teammates, however didn’t kneel.

“I don’t need to see y’all paint these dudes as white saviors that had been at all times talking up,” he said on Twitter. “It’s simply not true. I used to be there.”

Nonetheless, the talk in all corners of the N.F.L. reveals a change in tradition over the previous 4 years. It’s unclear what number of gamers and coaches will take concrete steps to deal with social injustice, however they seem extra keen to acknowledge it or categorical their help of change in public statements. That might change as soon as they return to coaching camp and must face tv cameras and doubtlessly followers, a few of whom are certain to disagree with them.

However for now, the dialogue seems to be subsuming the league. The Detroit Lions on Monday decided not to talk about football, as an alternative holding a team-wide dialogue between gamers and coaches in regards to the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis.

On Thursday, the Packers released a two-minute video that begins with the title, “Sufficient is Sufficient.” It’s adopted by gamers calling for steps to deal with social injustice in opposition to African-People and gamers saying “It’s time for change.”

Troy Vincent, the N.F.L.’s government vp of soccer operations, wrote an op-ed for The Athletic that he reposted in a sequence of tweets about speaking to his son Taron. Each Vincent and his son are African-American, and the writing particulars a dialog about how Taron ought to reply if he had been to be stopped by police as he drove again to the Ohio State campus.

However even in his lofty place, Vincent mentioned that he had been challenged by his daughter Desiré to talk publicly.

“As an establishment, the N.F.L. has the flexibility to convey individuals to the desk,” he mentioned. “We could be bridge-builders and facilitate dialogue. We are able to drive consciousness round points. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, our platform permits us to try this.”

Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Current track



Current show

Solid Gold

4:00 am 5:00 am

Current show

Solid Gold

4:00 am 5:00 am