New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees took to social media for a second time Thursday to offer an apology, following widespread backlash over his comments the day before about his feelings about kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice.

“I know there’s not much I can say that would make things any better right now,” Brees, 41, said. “But I just want you to see in my eyes how sorry I am for the comments that I made yesterday. I know that it hurt many people, especially friends, teammates, former teammates, loved ones, people that I care and respect deeply. That was never my intention.

“I wish I would have laid out what was on my heart, in regard 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 regard to legislation and so many other things, to bring equality to our black communities.

“I’m sorry, and I will do better, and I will be part of the solution. And I am your ally.”

Brees added that he knows “no words will do that justice” before the video he posted came to an abrupt end.

Earlier on Thursday, Brees shared an image of white and black hands clasping one another in a post in which he apologized to “anyone I hurt.”

“I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” he wrote in a caption to that post.

“In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and 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.”

Fans, teammates and fellow athletes called out New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees after he said anthem protests disrespect the American flag on June 3. (The Washington Post)

In an interview Wednesday with Yahoo Finance, Brees spoke of athletes who had knelt or raised a fist to protest police brutality and social injustice during the national anthem, saying, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.” He went on to describe thinking about his grandfathers fighting in World War II as it plays. “That brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed,” he said.

Kaepernick and NFL players made it clear that their protest had nothing to do with the flag or, for that matter, the military. And the conversation about brutality has flared since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer May 25. A number of athletes were highly critical of Brees’s comments. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers wrote on Instagram, “It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag.” Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers tweeted that Brees was “beyond lost. He’s beyond lost. Guarantee you there were black men fighting along side your grandfather but this doesn’t seem to be about that. That uncomfortable conversation you are trying to avoid by injecting military into a conversation about brutality and equality is part of the problem.”

In his first apology, Brees acknowledged the damage his comment had done.

“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. This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community.

“I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.

“For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”

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I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and 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. This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

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