New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees offered several apologies for his comments regarding NFL player protests. Brees’ initial comments during an interview with Yahoo Finance were, in part, that he will never agree with anyone disrespecting the flag, or the United States of America. That set off a social media firestorm of criticism for Brees’ stance. Brees was forgiven by his teammate, star wide receiver Michael Thomas, which suggests that individuals inclined to care should forgive Brees too.
I’m an NFL fan, and I don’t forgive Brees. To forgive is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.” I don’t think Brees even needed to apologize for his comments. His initial comments showed great insensitivity considering the NFL player protests were against police brutality. Either you’re against police brutality, or you’re for it. There’s no in between stance you can take.
Brees previously maintained that protesting NFL players should “find another way” to protest. The practice of kneeling during the national anthem by NFL players was initiated by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is half Black. He was specifically protesting against police brutality perpetrated against Black Americans. Kaepernick set the narrative; therefore Brees, who is White, has no authority on how Black Americans can protest an issue that exclusively affects them. Brees’ retort to “find another way” should have been replaced with “How can I help?” my Black NFL brothers in their efforts to bring attention to and eventually end police brutality against Black Americans.
What’s even more reprehensible about Brees’ initial comment was the mention of his grandfathers who fought in World War II to make America a better place, as if that fact is supposed to unanimously sway public opinion his way regarding the protests. Make no mistake: I appreciate the service and sacrifice of both of Brees’ grandfathers, as well as all of the men and women of the armed forces. Both of my grandfathers served in the segregated Army and Navy respectively during World War II. They faced an unappreciative America rooted in racism when they returned home. My grandfathers lived during the times of legalized lynching of Black people. If they were alive today, both of them would agree with Kaepernick’s stance.
The Brees situation will soon be a non issue, as America is currently focused on more pressing issues. It isn’t imperative that I forgive Brees anyway, as he is entitled to his opinion. Besides, Brees is a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback whose very existence will not be predicated on if anyone forgives him. That said, I am also entitled to not forgive Brees for his initial comments. And the world will surely go on whether or not Brees is totally forgiven or not.