Brees said respecting the anthem is not just about showing respect to the military, but also to anyone who sacrificed for this country, including those in the civil rights movement.
“And is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not,” Brees said in the interview. “We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better, and that we are all part of the solution.”
“You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee??” James said in a tweet, referencing Colin Kaepernick. “Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of (the flag of United States) and our soldiers.”
James went on to discuss his own father-in-law who was in the Army, saying that he never found Kaepernick — who famously knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality — disrespectful, “because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong!”
Later, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke up — though he didn’t reference Brees or his comments specifically.
Black players make up about 70% of the NFL. In 2018, the NFL passed a policy to fine players for kneeling during the anthem, which was done to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the US. The punishment associated with the policy was later nixed, though the policy itself still remained.