- Drew Brees says he cannot support anyone who didn’t “respect the flag.”
- His comment triggered a firestorm of controversy.
- Brees’ apology is just as tone-deaf as the original statement.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is under fire.
During an interview with Yahoo Finance, in which he was asked about players who kneel during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality and systemic racism, Brees made clear that he will “never respect anyone who disrespects the flag.”
And while he subsequently apologized for his statements—and backtracked with the sickest backpedal this side of the Tour De France —Brees only revealed what far too many “good ol’ Southern boys” think when it comes to racism, veterans, and “respecting the flag.”
Drew Brees: ‘My Grandfather Was A Veteran’
When Yahoo Finance editor Daniel Roberts sat down with Brees to discuss the nuances of race relations in the United States Thursday, he probably thought he’d talk to the Saints quarterback about his Small Sliders burger franchise in Slidell, LA.
Roberts most likely had no idea that Brees would bang the drum of war in an attempt to invoke a false sense of patriotism among the viewers:
Let me just tell what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about. And in many cases, that brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed.
Drew Brees probably heard Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” in his head, complete with the cannons and the bells, as he made this bone-headed remark.
But everyone else heard Pastor Troy’s “I Want War” instead, and they certainly brought it to him.
The Conversation Is Not About You, Drew
We’ve spoken before about the importance of white people—and, specifically, white celebrities—being mindful about not centering the conversation of race relations around them.
Drew Brees, bless his heart (as they say in the South), didn’t get the memo.
Instead of taking a moment to reflect on why these protestors were taking a knee in the first place—to protest the extra-legal murder of black men and women at the hands of police—he centered the conversation around himself, his white family, and their privileged position.
Because when Brees’ grandfathers went off to World War II, they fought alongside black men under the same flag. The difference is, when Brees’ grandfathers came home, they were given a hero’s welcome and afforded every benefit and privilege available to them as servicemen.
But the black men who fought alongside Brees’ grandfather had to fight a war on two fronts. Black soldiers were segregated until 1948, so they weren’t given the same treatment as their white counterparts.
When they got back to the United States after World War II in 1945, they had to deal with “separate but equal” conditions and outright racism, especially in the South, until 1954, when Brown v. Board of Education ruled against “separate but equal” conditions.
Not that Brown v. Board of Education did anything to quell the virulent racism in the South (who, apparently, still had their feelings hurt over losing the Civil War back in 1865). If black soldiers wanted any sort of rights, they had to wait until 1968 and the passing of the Civil Rights Act.
And even then, they had nowhere near the rights and privileges afforded to their white counterparts. More often than not, they were denied fair housing, denied VA loans, and denied benefits under the GI Bill.
Drew Brees somehow seems to think that the black men on the football field with him didn’t have grandfathers that also fought in the wars alongside his grandfathers.
No wonder New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins—Brees’ teammate—addressed him harshly in an Instagram video.
He’s Since Apologized…But Based On His Fans’ Response, This Is What “Good Ol’ Southern Boys” Really Think
Facing inevitable backlash and “cancelation,” especially from the likes of ESPN who typically applaud him as a savior of sorts, Drew Brees subsequently issued a mea culpa, swearing that he totally stands with his black brothers and sisters in solidarity against the scourge of racism.
But based on the comments in response to this apology, Brees’ initial statement only illustrates what many “good ol’ Southern boys” really think. They believe that his black teammates should apologize to him for hurting his feelings. They think that his black teammates are nothing but an angry mob. And they believe that unlike his black teammates, Drew Brees is a “free man” and shouldn’t have to cave to slaves.
It’s almost as if the Civil War never happened, even though they call it “The War of Northern Aggression.” Whatever that means.
The stench of racism is all over the United States, and the country as a whole is being called to reckon for it. But as Drew Brees’ initial statement, and his fans’ subsequent response, have demonstrated, the South has a long way to go before it can rid itself of this deadly virus.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.