Drew Brees: Anthem comments 'hurt a lot of people,' but will stand for flag

It’s been an offseason of learning for Drew Brees. The comments he made about never respecting anyone who kneels during the anthem sparked outrage across the NFL and all sports, especially among Black players. Ever since, he’s been on a journey to make up for the hurt he caused.

Brees spoke to the the media via conference call on Saturday morning, and before talking football or training camp or COVID-19, he addressed his June comments.

Brees’ statement to the media

Here are Brees’ full remarks, via nola.com:

"I've always been someone who has felt compelled to serve. It's the main reason why Brittany and I came to New Orleans. That was a time when I really wasn't sure if I would ever play football again. But I knew that I had a chance to be a part of something much greater than myself. The last 15 years in New Orleans have been some of the proudest and most rewarding moments of our lives. And we tried to dedicate ourselves to creating a lasting legacy of hope, love and progress, especially in this city.

Going back to my comment on June 3, to think for a second that New Orleans or the state of Louisiana or the black community would think that I was not standing with them for social justice, that completely broke my heart. It was crushing. Never ever would I feel that way. I recognize that I missed an opportunity that day. I had an opportunity to talk about and emphasize the social injustices that exist for our black community and our need as a country to support them and to advocate for systemic change. And my lack of awareness in that moment hurt a lot of people.

Now there are three key things I want to make very clear.

No. 1, I will always stand for the flag because of what it means to me and to honor all those who have sacrificed, who have served and died for our country and all those who have struggled to move this country forward.

Second, I acknowledge and respect anyone who chooses to kneel or any other form of peaceful protest to bring attention to the social injustices and systemic racism that so many have endured and continue to endure in our country. I will always support and advocate for the black and brown communities in the fight for social injustices. Always.

Third, I'm the same person now that I've always been. I'm someone who cares deeply for people in my community, New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, people everywhere. I'm someone who will always address the inequities and disparities that exist. I'm someone who has great empathy for those who are hurting, struggling, or victims of injustice. And I'm someone who feels a great sense of responsibility to serve and to lead and to bring true equality to everyone."

Drew Brees will stand for the anthem, but respects anyone who chooses to kneel in protest. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Brees will stand for national anthem

In his prepared statement, Brees lamented that he “missed an opportunity” to really stand up for the Black community and bring more awareness to the social injustices and systemic racism that Black people encounter every day in America. His knows comments hurt people, and it broke his heart that the Black community didn’t think he stood with them. In the nearly two months since those comments, he has apologized twice and penned an open letter to President Donald Trump about protesting during the national anthem.

What exactly are those feelings? Brees clarified them on Saturday, saying that while he respects anyone who chooses to peacefully protest during the anthem by kneeling, he is personally choosing to stand for the anthem. To Brees, standing is honoring those who have served and sacrificed for the country.

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