New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees joined the fray and weighed in on Colin Kaepernick’s controversial national anthem sit down. The Super Bowl XLIV Most Valuable Player said that “it was bothering me all day long.”
The 37-year-old field general, who participated in five USO trips where he met and talked with myriad military personnel, told ESPN that the American flag is “sacred” and that he “wholeheartedly” disagrees with Kaepernick’s protest.
The grandson of two WW II veterans—one fought with the Marines in Okinawa the other served in the Army in India—Brees considers it an “oxymoron that you’re sitting down, disrespecting that flag that has given you the freedom to speak out.”
The Texas Native, who holds the NFL quarterback career record for passing percentage, opined “The great thing about this country is that we have the freedoms that allow you to speak out openly about any issue. So I’m not commenting on the issue itself because any person has the right to speak out on any issue they want. That’s the great thing about being an American. But the American flag is what represents those freedoms. It represents the very freedom that Colin Kaepernick gets the opportunity to exercise by speaking out his opinion in a peaceful manner about that issue.”
Saints head coach Sean Peyton declined to comment on the controversy, saying, “Honestly, we have a lot more important things that we’re working on right here in our building.” However, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro voiced his disagreement with not standing for the national anthem: “It’s bigger than just what’s going on around our country. You’ve got people fighting for our lives, fighting for our country every day. And I think there are other ways that you can handle it.”
Football legend Jim Brown, a rigorous supporter of the civil rights movement and longtime defender of society’s responsibility to improve the condition of African Americans, said we shouldn’t admonish Kaepernick for his beliefs because he may not be wrong “about some aspects of what’s happening in America.”
Yet, Brown said that he stands up for the national anthem and doesn’t believe the anthem or flag “represents bigotry or oppression.” He told Bleacher Report, “Most who honor it don’t believe in bigotry or oppression. This is a nation that twice elected an African-American man to the presidency by comfortable margins. A mostly bigoted nation doesn’t do that.”