It’s been difficult to write much the last week while the country is gripped in protests, riots, civil unrest, and let us not forget about the coronavirus pandemic thats killed more than 100,000 people. 2020 has been the year from hell and the murder of George Floyd was the tipping point for many Americans.
In times like these we typically turn towards sports to help heal the rawest of wounds. It sounds silly, but it’s true. Sports has always been the unifying force that society uses to bring people of all different backgrounds together, if only for a couple of hours.
I’m torn on this because sports have unified people during horrific times like 9/11 and helped kickstart difficult conversations after tragedies like Eric Garner’s death, but maybe not having sports right now is for the best? Without any sports to speak of theres nothing for us to turn our attention towards. We’re all stuck at home and forced to have the difficult conversations that sometimes we’re all too quick to turn the page on.
The 24/7 news cycle never sleeps, but it seems like as a nation we’re all focusing on the same exact thing right now. We may fall on different sides of the issue, but we’re all talking about the same issue, which is how progress begins.
A lot of people are learning, and hopefully growing, in real time. Drew Brees faced the swift wrath of not just twitter, but his own teammates and peers from around the NFL after he denounced protestors kneeling during the anthem.
Highlight: @readdanwrite asks @drewbrees what the star NFL quarterback thinks about "players kneeling again when the NFL season starts."@drewbrees: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 3, 2020
Full exchange: pic.twitter.com/MpCkFyOMed
…and then apologized less than 24 hours later. Life comes at you fast, Drew. It was a shockingly tone deaf statement from one of the faces of the NFL. It’s been 3+ years since Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality, but plenty of people, Drew Brees front and center, still think it’s about the military or “disrespecting the flag.”
I don’t know what kind of reaction Brees expected from these comments during what may be the height of racial tensions in my lifetime, but he has, unsurprisingly, been getting ripped by players across the league including by his own No. 1 receiver, Michael Thomas.
We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 3, 2020
Malcolm Jenkins put out a heartbreaking video directly responding to Brees’ comments and effectively telling him to just shut up and listen.
Malcolm Jenkins posted this response to Drew Brees, but then deleted it as he spoke with his teammate.— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) June 3, 2020
In the end he reposted it, which is a very good thing. Because it's emotional, powerful and should be required viewing for anyone with even the slightest opinion on the topic. pic.twitter.com/8GCQPq2L8b
The McCourty twins eviscerated Drew Brees for leaning on the military as a reason for denouncing the kneeling protestors.
This is a disgrace! To speak about your grandfathers as if there weren’t black men fighting next to them.Those men later returned to a country that hated them. Don’t avoid the issue and try to make it about a flag or the military. Fight like your grandfathers for whats right! https://t.co/qag3Igic3V— Devin&Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) June 3, 2020
Brees issued a lengthy apology this morning, less than 24 hours after his original comments, but I find it hard to believe he was this glib to begin with so the apology does ring a bit hollow. Hopefully Brees and everyone who sees this exchange use it as a learning experience.
We try to not get too political here, but after hearing the pain in the voices of some of my black friends it would be selfish to not use the minuscule platform we have here to at least say something. I’m a white guy in his thirties so I’ll never know what it’s like to be a black man in America, but one of the main things I heard from friends of mine is to simply see and acknowledge our differences. Saying you “don’t see color” is misguided because that only blinds you to the issues that people of different races experience on a daily basis. It’s important to see, and celebrate, the differences between us all. Ignoring those differences may be done with good intentions, but it takes away from our ability to use any privilege we do have to help, even if its just calling out a friend or a family member on their shit.
I’ll leave you with this video that former Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho put out yesterday: Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man
Dear white people,— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) June 2, 2020
For days you’ve asked me what you can do to help. I’ve finally found an answer.
Let your guard down and listen. pic.twitter.com/74SVv8XOqp