LeBron, NFL players rip Brees after comments about kneeling
NBA superstar LeBron James and even New Orleans Saints teammates Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Thomas and Cameron Jordan took aim at Drew Brees on Wednesday after the quarterback reiterated his objection to those who kneel during the national anthem.
And they weren't alone, as new Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and many more bashed the quarterback over social media. Even Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemed to join the fray.
In an interview posted to Twitter, Brees told Yahoo Finance that he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." Brees had been asked about his responsibility moving forward as somebody who is viewed around the league as a leader.
Brees' public comments were his first following the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was arrested last week and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. A second-degree murder charge against him was added Wednesday. He had pressed his knee on the neck of Floyd, a black man, for more than eight minutes.
Three other former Minneapolis police officers were charged Wednesday with abetting Chauvin.
James lowered the boom on Brees for taking the stance of disrespecting the flag when speaking of Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during in 2016. Brees said that he disagreed with Kaepernick's method of drawing attention to racial injustice.
"Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn't!" James wrote. "You literally still don't understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of (the flag) and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those."
Jenkins, a member of the NFL Players Coalition for racial equality and social justice, said of Brees in a later-deleted Instagram video, "Our communities are under siege and we need help. And what you're telling us is don't ask for help that way, ask for it a different way. I can't listen to it when you ask that way. We're done asking, Drew. And people who share your sentiments, who express those, and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are the problem.
"It is unfortunate because I considered you a friend, I looked up to you, you're someone I had a great deal of respect for, but sometimes you should shut the (bleep) up."
Jenkins posted the video before speaking Wednesday with Brees, after which he deleted the post.
Jenkins later wrote online, "I recorded a few videos when thinking of how to respond to Drew Brees, I don't take any of it back - I meant what I said - I removed the 1st video because I knew it be more about the headlines. I want people to understand how those of us struggling with what's going on feel."
Rodgers did not mention Brees by name, but his commentary on his verified Instagram account countered that of his peer and appeared with a photograph of him locking arms on the sideline with his black teammates. The Rodgers post appeared after Brees' comments began to draw attention.
"It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now," Rodgers wrote, in part. "Listen with an open heart, let's educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action."
Thomas took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with Brees.
"He don't know no better," Thomas wrote on Wednesday afternoon.
Thomas followed 15 minutes later with "We don't care if you don't agree and whoever else how about that."
Brees followed Thomas' tweets with a statement to ESPN.com.
"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."
Sanders, who previously compared joining Brees to playing with Peyton Manning in Denver, wrote "Smh.. Ignorant" upon hearing his new quarterback's comments.
Jordan offered on Twitter, "I've been told countless times, believe only half of what you see and none of what you hear. Idk bout it. I do know Actions speak louder than words. I've been told that a plenty... show me"
Sherman didn't mince words with his assessment of Brees' comments.
"He's beyond lost," Sherman wrote. "Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn't seem to be about that. That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem."
Former NFL wide receiver Doug Baldwin Jr. tweeted, "@drewbrees the reason my children have to live in a world that won't empathize with their pain is because people like you are raising your children to perpetuate the cycle. Drew, you are the problem."
Free agent defensive tackle Damon Harrison tweeted, "How can you be in the locker rooms, speaking to the players, know the reasoning, and yet still be dumb enough to believe it's about the flag. Like HOW???? He should know better than that. He just doesn't care. Damn man not Drew..."
Brees and Thomas have been on the same page on the field, with the latter being named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2019.
Thomas, 27, caught 149 passes for 1,725 yards last season, both league highs, and he scored nine touchdowns. He has 470 receptions for 5,512 yards and 32 touchdowns in 63 career games with the Saints.