Anger at Brees over stance on NFL kneeling protests

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 5 Jun 2020

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees sparked a furious backlash as he refused to support renewed NFL kneeling protests, saying to do so would be "disrespecting" the United States flag.

As a wave of demonstrations sweeps the US, many athletes have voiced support for former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who ignited controversy in 2016 by kneeling during the US national anthem. Kaepernick was later frozen out of the league and has been unemployed since 2017.

The issue of player activism has returned following the US protests triggered by the death in police custody last week of George Floyd.

It has led to speculation that more players may opt to "take a knee" during the upcoming NFL season.

Brees however said that he remained firmly opposed to the protests.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said when asked about the possibility of protests.

Brees' remarks drew an angry response from fellow athletes, led by NBA superstar LeBron James who wrote on Twitter: "Wow, man! You literally still don't understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of the flag - and our soldiers."

The criticism also included barbs from some of Brees' teammates.

"He don't know no better," Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas wrote on Twitter. "We don't care if you don't agree and whoever else how about that."

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