June 4 (UPI) — New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote a prolonged apology Thursday to black Individuals, his pals, teammates and the NFL after he made “divisive” feedback about gamers kneeling in protest in the course of the Nationwide Anthem.

Requested throughout an interview Wednesday with Yahoo Finance if he expects NFL gamers to kneel in protest this season, Brees stated he’ll “by no means agree with anyone disrespecting the flag of the US of America.”

The remark drew instant backlash from Brees’ teammates and different NFL gamers and sports activities stars, together with LeBron James.

“I want to apologize to my pals, teammates, the Metropolis of New Orleans, the black group, NFL group and anybody I damage with my feedback yesterday,” Brees wrote in an Instagram publish.

“In talking with a few of you, it breaks my coronary heart to know the ache I’ve prompted.”

NFL groups, gamers and the league have made statements in assist of Floyd over the previous week. Floyd was killed final week whereas handcuffed and pinned to the bottom in Minneapolis. His demise has spurred protests all through the US and the world.

“In an try to speak about respect, unity, and solidarity centered across the American flag and the nationwide anthem, I made feedback that have been insensitive and fully missed the mark on the problems we face proper now as a rustic,” Brees wrote Thursday. “They lacked consciousness and any kind of compassion or empathy. As a substitute, these phrases have develop into divisive and hurtful and have misled folks into believing that in some way I’m an enemy.

“This might not be farther from the reality, and isn’t an correct reflection of my coronary heart or my character.”

Brees, 41, has been within the NFL for 19 seasons. The 13-time Professional Bowl choice, Tremendous Bowl Champion, two-time Offensive Participant of the 12 months and 2004 Comeback Participant of the 12 months gained the Walter Payton NFL Man of the 12 months award in 2006. The honour acknowledges a participant for excellence on and off the sphere and people who have had a major constructive impression on their communities.

Brees and his spouse, Brittany, have been avid philanthropists all through his tenure in New Orleans. The couple donated $5 million in March to assist ship meals to needy folks in Louisiana in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brees stated he helps coverage change and stands with the black group within the “battle towards systemic racial injustice and police brutality.”

“I’m sick about the way in which my feedback have been perceived yesterday, however I take full duty and accountability,” he added. “I acknowledge that I ought to do much less speaking and extra listening … and when the black group is speaking about their ache, all of us must hear. For that, I’m very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”