• phil cantor/@osgphil

Drew Brees Apologizes but is the Damage Already Done?



Talk about stepping into a hornets nest at the absolute wrong time....


New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees escalated the anger of multiple teammates and athletes throughout the sporting world with comments he made to Yahoo Finance (no, I don't know why he was talking to them) regarding the ongoing racial divide.


Specifically, Brees went on record saying "I'll never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States". He continued on talking about his family's military history....



Which in many ways is one of most tone deaf statements anyone who interacts with black athletes on a near daily basis has ever made.


For those who need a refresher, it all dates back to Colin Kaepernick's 2016 kneeling as a form of protest over systemic racism throughout the country. A very real, very painful issue that has continued despite Kaepernick and several others trying peaceful maneuvers to bring attention to an issue that never quite seems to be resolved.


The kneeling issue got completely hijacked by politicians---particular the "Fearless Leader" currently in charge who had no idea how to equate one gesture with the other. The whole thing somehow became an issue of "Patriotism" and the military which fit a political talking point (or screaming point) instead of the issue at hand. Race.


It also cost Kaepernick his career, not for his skill level, but for the fact no billionaire owner would touch him because of the politics involved.


In my opinion, it arguably (and I'm sure someone will argue this) it may be the single most tone deaf thing done by white people thus far in the 21st Century.


Brees's initial statement infuriated his teammates and a whole slew of athletes...


From his star WR Michael Thomas (one of several comments--I only picked one):



It also drew the ire of NBA Star LeBron James:


Brees appears to have been informed of what he did and the quick condemning reaction to it. He spoke several hours after it happened with teammate Malcolm Jenkins who was infuriated by what he heard at first....



This morning (Thursday--day after initial statement). Brees came out publicly (at least on Social Media...and apologized profusely.



It's a start. A small step. I'm reasonably sure Brees is going to have some long conversations with his teammates because if he doesn't, the Saints are in trouble without ever playing a game.


As the QB and face of the Saints franchise---his teammates, fans, coaches and everyone else deserves better. I hope and think he may now know this. For an athlete, particularly on the professional level, you are by nature in one of the most diverse melting pots in all of American society and by and large, most are very aware of this.


In many ways---locker rooms are an ideal which society in many ways should strive to be. The microcosm I speak of is the true wide range of backgrounds in a shared space striving for one common goal. Are there outliers? Yes, but they often are weeded out quickly.


A team is only as good as the individual parts comprising it and if those parts don't have absolute trust and belief in the person standing next to them, those teams will likely not be successful. Brees, I believe knows this and has some work to do.


It's truly unfortunate this became a thing--but it highlights a problem that happens way too often. Far too many people (including me) speak often without thinking and say things not being aware of the repercussions. It happens almost daily.


Drew Brees has a chance to fix a problem he created all by himself. For all his accolades and all of his career success---the challenge of having to repair this mistake, may very well be what defines him from here on out.

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