- President Donald Trump defended Drew Brees in a series of tweets, saying NFL players should stand for the national anthem.
- Many criticised Brees for comments he made during an interview in which he said he believed kneeling was “disrespecting” the flag.
- Brees later apologised after several players called his comments hurtful, noting that he misconstrued the meanings of the gesture, which protests police brutality and social injustice.
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On Friday, President Donald Trump once again took on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice.
Trump said he was a “fan” of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who said he believes players should stand for the national anthem, saying he wouldn’t “agree” with anyone “disrespecting the flag.”
Brees later apologised for his comments following a backlash in the sports world, including his teammates. Trump criticised Brees’ apology.
“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honouring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high,” Trump tweeted.
“We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”
The protests, which were started by Colin Kaepernick in 2016, have re-entered the public consciousness amid nationwide Black Lives Matter protests. Brees’ comments came after Yahoo Finance asked about players continuing to kneel during the anthem.
In his apology, Brees said he “missed the mark” after many pointed out that the protests were never about the military or the flag. Notably, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said Brees needed to “shut the f— up,” calling Brees’ comments “hurtful.” Brees said in his apology that he should “do less talking and more listening.”
In 2017, Trump said any “son of a bitch” who took a knee during the anthem should be “fired,” setting off league-wide protests in the NFL. The protests have largely died down in recent seasons.
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