New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was a member of Yahoo Finance's On The Move panel this morning to have a conversation about several different topics, including the business sector's re-opening, the upcoming NFL year, and the national unrest playing out on the streets.
He was asked about the prospect of players making a statement by kneeling during the national anthem again when football returns. Brees gave an answer that, while not entirely surprising considering his past comments, wasn't what a lot of people were expecting to hear today.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said. "Let me just tell you what I see, what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II -- one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps -- both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that's what I think about. And in many cases it brings me to tears thinking about all that has been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the '60s and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. 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 we are all part of the solution."
Brees was among the athletes to participate in Blackout Tuesday yesterday.
His go-to target, Michael Thomas just tweeted this, which could be related to the comments or not. Or in support of Brees or not. Pretty opaque stuff.
Anyway, interesting timing.
UPDATE: Brees provided an additional statement on this matter to ESPN's Mike Triplett:
"I love and respect my teammates and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice," Brees said. "I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis."
"I believe we should all stand for the national anthem and respect our country and all those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms," Brees said via text message. "That includes all those who marched for women's suffrage in the 1920s and all those who marched in the civil rights movements and continue to march for racial equality. All of us ... EVERYONE ... represent that flag. Same way I respect all the citizens of our country ... no matter their race, color, religion. And I would ask anyone who has a problem with what I said to look at the way I live my life. Do I come across as someone who is not doing my absolute best to make this world a better place, to bring justice and equality to others, and hope & opportunity to those who don't have it? That's what I meant by actions speak louder than words. ... My ACTIONS speak for themselves."
"There is a saying in every locker room I have been in," Brees wrote. "'Don't just talk about it, be about it.' Acknowledge the problem, and accept the fact that we all have a responsibility to make it better. 'Your actions speak so loudly I can't hear what you're saying.'"