Drew Brees caught the ire of plenty Wednesday afternoon, including from his own teammates.
Brees sent shockwaves around the NFL while addressing the possibility of players kneeling during the national anthem in the upcoming season. The New Orleans Saints’ star quarterback bluntly stated he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Wide receiver Michael Thomas and safety Malcolm Jenkins were among Saints players who promptly called out Brees for his remarks. Defensive end Cameron Jordan was equally disappointed with what Brees had to say and he expressed as much in a phone call with the veteran signal-caller Wednesday.
“I feel like I gave him my perspective — it was almost like I was trying to force him to walk a mile in my shoes — and I hope it gets through,” Jordan told NFL.com. “I hope it gets through to my guy Drew, because that’s what he is … he’s been my guy since I entered the league (in 2011).
“He’s been the leader and a guy I can rely on — on the field. Well, off the field has to align. I can’t allow people to tippy-toe on the line of this issue. You can’t play both sides on this one. We’re fighting to end social injustice, and you’re either with us or you aren’t.”
“I understand that Drew has military ties, and he went on to explain that (in our conversation), but the first nine words (‘I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag’) are the most hurtful. He’s creating the emotional illusion that everyone who takes a knee is disrespecting the flag, when we’ve spent years trying to explain what the protest is really about.
“This flag is supposed to protect all of us. I support the military, too — I’ve done multiple USO Tours. My grandfather was in the Army and later served as the first black highway patrolman in Phoenix. My uncle was in the Navy. And my wife’s dad was in the Marines.
“I know Drew is a phenomenal person. I know he gives back to the community. I know what’s in his heart and how he pours out his heart. But maybe I didn’t get clear enough about what the movement meant in 2017, when we all knelt in unison in London.”
Brees’ comments also come with training camp right around the corner. Jordan expects the Saints to tackle the issue head-on once they congregate.
“In our locker room, we hold people accountable. I’ve already talked to 10 to 12 teammates, and a coach or two, and with the man himself (Brees). You have to put him legitimately in our shoes, and at the same time, I don’t want to force feed him. I want to walk in his shoes, too. (The national anthem) is a source of pride for him. But he has to know what that act is all about, and what it really represents.”