As sports and social issues intertwine, politics have joined the mix as well. New Orleans Saints Pro-Bowl quarterback Drew Brees came under fire from peers, teammates and past players for the comments he made recently, where he said he opposed kneeling during the national anthem because of his family’s military background.
Several of Brees’s teammates and other athletes like LeBron James took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with Brees’s comments.
On Wednesday, James criticized Brees’s understanding of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling movement and cited his veteran father-in-law’s support of the movement as proof that one can support both soldiers and freedom of expression.
According to ESPN’s Diana Russini, the Saints had a team meeting where Brees privately apologized to his team for his comments.
Brees, who had donated five million dollars to the city of New Orleans in March for COVID-19 relief, backtracked the following day and apologized to his friends, teammates and the city, just a day after protesters chanted “f— Drew Brees” in New Orleans.
The treatment Brees received was unfair, considering the impact he has made on the community of New Orleans, but I do not blame people for being upset because someone they respected or even loved showed his true colors.
Political commentary joined the fray in the midst of the controversy and backlash, as Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham, who once told James to “shut up and dribble” after he criticized President Donald Trump, called the backlash to Brees “totalitarian” and “Stalinist.”
Ingraham’s comments are not only inconsistent but not constructive.
Trump himself soon chimed in, tweeting “OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high” and “NO KNEELING!” for his millions of followers to see.
Trump’s comments clearly put him on a side that both contradicts popular opinion and raises the question: if peacefully protesting by kneeling is wrong, how should Americans use their freedom of speech without being violent?
Following Trump’s comments, Brees addressed him in an Instagram post asking for a shift in attention to systemic racial issues such as economic inequality, police brutality, and reform of the justice system.
Brees’s teammates praised him for his change of opinion.While the backlash directed towards Brees was misguided and extreme based on his history of supporting the community of New Orleans, using this opportunity to learn and grow is the right move from Brees and the Saints.