In October of 2018, New Orleans Saints fans cheered as their beloved quarterback Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s record to become the all-time leading passer in NFL history – and on a touchdown pass no less. We celebrated this accomplishment but with a more scathing view in Go Rylan Brees.
The headlines read, “Drew Brees Gives Inspiring Talk To His Kids After New NFL Record”. Except he didn’t give an inspiring talk to his kids. He gave it to his three sons as his daughter watched, held in the arms of her mother. “Hey boy, hey boys!” Brees exclaimed. “You can accomplish anything in life that you want to work for, right?” (watch here)
I was stunned when I first saw it, unable to believe how rampant sexism still was in this sensitive climate – not just in sports, but the media too. I couldn’t believe no one picked up on it or told that story. But thankfully Drew Brees’ fumble on Wednesday did not go unnoticed, when a statement he made in an interview with Yahoo Finance went viral and became headline news.
Brees was asked about Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began “taking a knee” in the 2016 season during the playing of the national anthem, in protest of police brutality and racism in America. Amid the George Floyd protests over the killing of yet another unarmed black man, Brees’ Trumpian response was, “Well, I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Thankfully, this time there was outrage against his insensitive, thoughtless, and ignorant comments. Teammates and other prominent African American athletes like Le Bron James ripped into him. Said James on Twitter, “You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolutely nothing to do with the disrespect of flag and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free.”
Said Brees’ teammate Malcolm Jenkins in a tearful Instagram post, “Our communities are under siege and we need help. And what you’re telling us is don’t ask for help that way… I can’t listen to it when you ask that way.” He went on in a later post to add, “If you don’t understand how hurtful and insensitive your comments are, you are part of the problem”.
Brees has since gone on to apologize… twice. It seems to be falling on deaf ears, addressing “friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt”. Apologizing for hurting people, is not apologizing for what you did, but for the reaction it caused — and it definitely shows no real understanding of the impact of his words.
Donald Trump shrouds the true meaning of the American flag to pervert it into an excuse for the racism, injustice, and inequality the black community faces every day. He adopts our patriotic symbols of freedom for his own right wing agenda — like holding up a bible for a photo opp in front of a burned-out church where he has never worshipped, after clearing out peaceful protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets who were exercising their constitutional rights.
Colin Kaepernick has not played a game in the NFL since the 2016 season. One of the most talented quarterbacks in the game became a free agent that year and has yet to be signed by another team. Here’s an idea: bench Drew Brees and make Colin Kaepernick the Saints starting quarterback.
In this current environment, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kaepernick get the opportunity to take the field again. One could see the value as a PR move. After all, we did see NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell come out with a public statement in the wake of the Drew Brees backlash, to admit the NFL was wrong to ban player’s from kneeling during the national anthem (much to the outcry of Donald Trump). Said Goodell, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
One can only imagine how many more players we’ll see take a knee next season… maybe even Drew Brees?