Former NFL coach Tony Dungy spoke out about Drew Brees’s allegedly problematic flag comments on “The Pat McAfee Show,” saying that he’s not going to “downgrade” the Saints quarterback.
Brees faces backlash after sharing his thoughts on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in an interview with Yahoo Finance earlier this week.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said.
According to Dungy, Brees isn’t necessarily at fault for the way he spoke.
“He may not totally understand it may have been not exactly the way he wanted to express it, but he can’t be afraid to say that,” continued Dungy. “We can’t just say anytime something happens we don’t agree with ‘Hey I’m done with that and this person.’ That doesn’t make sense.”
"@drewbrees can't be afraid to say that and we can't be afraid to say 'ok I don't agree with you but let's talk about this'
We can't just say anytime something happens we don't agree with 'Hey I'm done with that and this person' that doesn't make sense"
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) June 4, 2020
Instead, Dungy expressed his hope that Brees’s comments would open up a bigger conversation about the issues.
“I would speak to Drew as a friend and hopefully some of those guys on that team have done that,” he said. “There’s some hurt there that goes beyond the flag. My dad was a veteran and he wouldn’t have taken these protests as disrespect for the flag he would have taken it as people trying to make a change in our great country for the better.
In an apology posted to his Instagram page, Brees reached out to his “friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone [Brees] hurt with [his] comments.”
View this post on Instagram
I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character. This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.
“I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country,” he said. “They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy.”
Brees went on to acknowledge and clarify his stance on the recent events surrounding George Floyd’s death and then asked for forgiveness.
I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community,” Brees wrote. “I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”