Brees apologizes: I 'completely missed the mark'

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees issued an apology Thursday for his comments on “disrespecting the flag,” saying he “completely missed the mark” on current issues in the United States and that it “breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused.”

During an interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, Brees reiterated his stance that he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.” He later told ESPN that he stands with his teammates fighting for racial equality and justice but also with the military, past and present.

The comments drew harsh criticism from a number of people, including his teammate Malcolm Jenkins, who said he was hurt by Brees’ comments and that they were “extremely self-centered.”

In an Instagram post Thursday, Brees said he was apologizing to his friends, teammates, New Orleans, the black community, the NFL community and “anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday.”

“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,” Brees wrote. “They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. 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.”

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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. 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. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. 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. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

Brees continued to say he stood with the black community “in the fight against system racial injustice and police brutality” while supporting the creation of real policy change.

He also condemned the years of oppression the black community has faced — and continues to face. And he acknowledged 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.”

The quarterback concluded by expressing his dismay over how his words have affected people.

“I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability,” Brees wrote. “I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening … and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.

“For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”

ESPN’s Mike Triplett contributed to this report.



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