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Saints QB Drew Brees says his flag comment was a missed opportunity – ESPN

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METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees on Saturday reiterated his vow to face with the Black group for social justice, saying it “broke my heart” and was “crushing” that his June comments about disrespecting the flag by kneeling in the course of the nationwide anthem made individuals really feel in another way.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback, who started his first training camp information convention with a ready assertion, stated he’ll at all times stand for the nationwide anthem due to what it means to him, however respects those that do not to deliver consideration to social injustices.

“I acknowledge and respect anyone who chooses to kneel or any other form of peaceful protest to bring attention to the social injustices and systemic racism that so many have endured and continue to endure in our country,” Brees stated.

Brees stated he has continued to have many constructive talks with teammates who had been crucial of his feedback in June — particularly mentioning veteran security Malcolm Jenkins, whom he referred to as a pal and an “ally.”

Brees stated he and his teammates have reconciled and “all of our goals are aligned” each on and off the sector.

“This is not about me. Our focus as a team and group of leaders is on this season and all the things we can accomplish together for social justice,” Brees stated.

“I’ve always been someone who has felt compelled to serve,” Brees stated to start his assertion, including that it was the primary motive why he and his spouse Brittany selected to return to New Orleans and assist the group rebuild within the wake of Hurricane Katrina when he was a free agent in 2006. “I knew I had an opportunity to be part of one thing a lot higher than myself. And the final 15 years in New Orleans have been a number of the proudest, most rewarding moments of our lives.

“Going again to my touch upon June third, to assume for a second that New Orleans or the state of Louisiana or the Black group would assume that I used to be not standing with them for social justice, that utterly broke my coronary heart. It was crushing. Never ever would I really feel that means. Now, I acknowledge that I missed a possibility that day. I had a possibility to speak about and emphasize the social injustices that exist for our Black group and our want as a rustic to assist them and to advocate for systemic change. And my ignorance in that second damage lots of people.

“I will always support and advocate for the Black and brown communities in the fight for social justice. Always. … I’m the same person now that I’ve always been. I’m someone who cares deeply for people in my community, New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, people everywhere. I’m someone who will always address the inequities and the disparities that exist. I’m someone who has great empathy for those who are hurting, struggling or victims of injustice. And I’m someone who feels a great sense of responsibility to serve and to lead and to bring true equality to everyone.”

Several of Brees’ teammates have publicly accepted his apologies and applauded his sincerity — particularly after he directed a message to President Donald Trump on social media insisting that, “We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our Black communities.”

Brees and his spouse even have pledged a complete of $10 million in donations to Louisiana this offseason for coronavirus aid, together with their current pledge of $5 million devoted to offering well being care in underserved communities. The Brees household additionally was the presenting sponsor of the Black College Football Hall of Fame’s “The Road to Equality” occasion.

Saints left deal with and group captain Terron Armstead stated this week that he’s “extremely confident” that Brees and his teammates will transfer ahead in a constructive method.

“Drew faced everything head-on, and that’s all you can ask for,” Armstead stated. “The best way to move forward is to face everything head-on. Invite any questions, comments or concerns.”

Saints coach Sean Payton additionally addressed the problem head-on following Brees’ feedback in June, encouraging the group to have open, heartfelt discussions about their emotions as an alternative of a repeatedly scheduled group assembly over video conferencing.

Nearly two months later, Payton stated he believes the group is able to transfer ahead.

“I think the locker room is in good shape,” Payton stated. “I don’t see any need to address anything relative to that. I think the players’ focus will be on earning a roster spot and that’ll be most important. That’ll be the same for the coaches.”

Meanwhile, the 41-year-old Brees, who has already lined up a post-football profession as a tv analyst for NBC, stated he has not made any choice on whether or not his 20th NFL season can be his final.

Although Payton hinted within the spring that he thought this probably might be the quarterback’s final season, Brees stated, “Man, I am not looking past one day at a time.”

“With the new normal, we’re navigating that. And I’m just taking it literally one day at a time,” Brees stated. “Listen, I’m excited for this season. There’s clearly a whole lot of unknowns and a whole lot of variables and a whole lot of issues that we’re gonna should navigate. But I believe that is one thing we have at all times been good at.

“And going again to the explanation I got here again [for this season]. My spouse and I had this dialog again once I made the choice. Yes, I’m coming again and I wish to play for my group. But I additionally really feel that this yr is gonna be about one thing a lot higher than soccer. And, at this level, I believe that was an understatement.”

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