New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote an Instagram note rejecting support from President Donald Trump who said the football player should not have taken back his comment that kneeling during the anthem was "disrespecting the flag."
The Instagram post from Brees made it clear that the conversation should not be about the flag.
"It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities," Brees wrote.
Brees continued, "We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform."
Earlier this week, Brees said he doesn't like NFL players who kneel while the anthem is playing. He said he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting" the U.S. flag.
He soon faced criticism from other NFL players and athletes who said the comments were tone-deaf given the national protests in response to the death of George Floyd.
Brees later apologized on Thursday for his "insensitive" comments, adding "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," Brees wrote in his apology on Instagram.
But the president has remained steadfast that Brees shouldn't have apologized.
"I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high," Trump tweeted on Friday.
"We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag - NO KNEELING!" Trump added.
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