Drew Brees Apologizes, Admits He 'Completely Missed the Mark' With Kneeling Comments

Drew Brees is apologizing for his comments about kneeling during the National Anthem after the New Orleans Saints quarterback said Wednesday that he still didn't support the peaceful form of protesting racial inequality and police brutality amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Thursday, the NFL player took to Instagram with a lengthy apology. "I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday," he began. "In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused."

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Brees said while he was attempting to talk about "respect, unity, and solidarity" centered around the American flag and anthem, he made comments that were "insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country." He continued that they lacked "awareness" as well as "any type of compassion or empathy."

"Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy," he continued. "This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character."

Brees added to his personal views, "I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today."

He then acknowledged that he had not done enough "to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community," but that he can be "part of the solution" and can be a leader to help the black community at this moment. "I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right," he wrote. "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy."

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Brees added that he was "sick" about the way his comments "were perceived," but took "full responsibility and accountability." The athlete concluded, "I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness."

The quarterback's initial comments came Wednesday in a Yahoo! article, in which he said nearly four years after Colin Kaepernick first took a knee, "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. [...] And is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go. 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."