The New Orleans Saints kicked off training camp in preparation for the 2020 NFL season, which means that quarterback Drew Brees met with the media for the first time. He revisited his now-infamous comments about kneeling during the national anthem and once again voiced his support for those that kneel. He said that it broke his heart that the remarks in June made people feel differently.
"Going back to my comment on June 3rd, 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," Brees said to start his press conference, per ESPN. "It was crushing. Never ever would I feel that way. Now, 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.
"I will always support and advocate for the Black and brown communities in the fight for social justice. Always. ... 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 the 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."
As Brees continued to explain, he will stand for the national anthem during the season. However, he will continue to support and respect those that kneel to bring attention to social injustices. Brees also said that he and his teammates have reconciled and that their goals are aligned both on and off the field.
When Brees initially said that kneeling was "disrespecting the flag and the country," he faced considerable criticism. Many NFL players and some of his teammates voiced their dissatisfaction with the veteran QB. However, Brees apologized and joined his teammates for a long Zoom meeting. His teammates accepted his apology and have since expressed the opinion that Brees and his fellow New Orleans Saints players will move forward in a positive manner.
After his apologies, Brees also put effort into providing support for communities in Louisiana. He and his wife pledged a total of $10 million in donations for COVID-19 relief. This amount included a pledge of $5 million to provide health care in underserved communities. Additionally, the Brees family served as the presenting sponsor for the Black College Football Hall of Fame's "The Road to Equality" event.