President Trump criticized New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees on Friday after the quarterback apologized for his comments against kneeling during the national anthem in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
Trump took to Twitter to share his thoughts on Brees, who has twice apologized since saying in an interview on Wednesday that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
“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,” the president wrote on Twitter.
“OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high … 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!”
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...
Brees responded to the president in an online post Friday night.
"Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It never has been," Brees wrote on Instagram.
"We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities," the quarterback continued. "We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform.
"We are at a critical juncture in our nation's history! If not now, then when?
"We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us."
"We, at the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter," Goodell said. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much needed change in this country."
Brees, 41, a Texas native who played college football at Purdue University in Indiana and has played 16 seasons in the NFL, faced major backlash from players throughout the sports world, including his own teammates.
Brees initially apologized Thursday morning in a lengthy Instagram message. He admitted that he made comments that were “insensitive and completely missed the mark on what we are facing right now as a country.”
Later that day he posted a video to Instagram saying “how sorry I am for the comments that I made yesterday.”
“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 am sorry," he continued. "And I will do better. And I will be part of the solution. And I am your ally.”
Brees’ teammate Michael Thomas was one of the many athletes who reacted to the quarterback’s comments this week.
“He don’t know no better,” Thomas wrote on Twitter. “We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.”
Other athletes across the sports world shared their thoughts about Brees’ comments, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, among others.
Fox News’ Daniel Canvoa contributed to this report.