New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees issued a video apology Thursday night following a written one in the morning after facing a backlash for saying in an interview that he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag" when it comes to kneeling in silent protest for racial injustice during the national anthem.
Brees, 41, posted a video on Instagram in which he said that it was not his intention to hurt others with his statement and promised to "do better" by speaking with his actions.
"I know there's not much that I can say that would make things any better right now, but I just want you to see in my eyes how sorry I am," Brees said in the video. "I am sorry, and I will do better, and I will be part of this solution, and I am your ally."
He first issued an apology on Instagram Thursday morning alongside a photo of black and white hands gripped together, writing that he stands with the black community and that his comments Wednesday lacked awareness and empathy.
"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 wrote. "In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country."
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick spearheaded the silent protest of kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to bring attention to racial injustice and police brutality. Former NFL executive Joe Lockhart wrote in a recent column for CNN that Kaepernick wasn't run out of the NFL due to his playing ability but because many owners thought signing him "was bad for business."
A group of black NFL stars, including Brees' Saints teammate Michael Thomas, released their own powerful video on Thursday in which they called on the league to admit that it was wrong to suppress the silent protest led by Kaepernick and state that "black lives matter."
Brees was asked on Wednesday by Yahoo Finance about the possibility of NFL players kneeling on the sidelines during the national anthem in the upcoming season in the wake of the ongoing protests following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said.
"Is everything right with our country right now? No, it's not," he added. "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."
Brees' response drew criticism from teammates like Saints star wide receiver Michael Thomas and fellow NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers quarterback wrote on Instagram that "it has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag."
In 2016, Brees told ESPN that he thought the protests by Kaepernick and others during the national anthem were disrespectful and that he "wholeheartedly" disagreed with them but retracted his most recent comments about it on Thursday.
"They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy,'' Brees wrote. "Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.
"This is where I stand: 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.I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community."