June 5, 2020 | 5:42pm | Updated June 5, 2020 | 6:53pm
President Trump on Friday reentered the fray over NFL players protesting police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem — knocking New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees for apologizing and demanding there be “NO KNEELING!” during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
“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.
”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!”
Brees said Wednesday that kneeling during the National Anthem was “disrespecting the flag” — though he soon apologized after taking heat for his remarks from players, activists and others for making the statement after the death of George Floyd.
“I know there’s not much that I could say that would make things any better right now,” Brees said in an Instagram video.
“But I just want you to see in my eyes how sorry I am for the comments that I made yesterday. I know they hurt many people, especially friends, teammates, former teammates, loved ones, people that I care and respect deeply,” he continued.
“I wish I would have laid out what was on my heart in regards to the George Floyd murder, Ahmaud Arbery, the years and years of social injustice, police brutality and the need for so much reform and change in regards to legislation and so many other things to bring equality to our black communities,” Brees said, referring to another African-American man who was killed while jogging by a former law enforcement official in Georgia.
“I’m sorry, and I will do better, and I will be part of the solution. And I am your ally. I know no words will do that justice, that’s going to have to be [earned].”
Trump’s tweets came as the nation remained mired in a bitter controversy over race and police brutality following Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis cops, a killing that sparked widespread protests.
Trump has been lashing out at NFL players and other athletes for kneeling during the anthem since then-San Francisco 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick started the trend during the 2016 preseason.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Trump said in Alabama in 2017.
Kaepernick remained on the bench during the third preseason game, but began kneeling during the fourth after speaking with former NFL player and ex-Green Beret Nate Boyer told him it would show more respect to members of the military.
But the quarterback was soon bounced from the league and has not played since — though dozens of other NFL players have followed his lead and continue to kneel during the anthem.