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FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2019, file photo, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) smiles after defeating the Indianapolis Colts 34-7 in an NFL football game in New Orleans. A person familiar with the situation says the Saints and record-setting quarterback Drew Brees have agreed on a two-year, $50 million contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, because the deal has not been announced. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, Fle)

Drew said what?

How crazy has the last 24 hours been for Drew Brees?

Seriously, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being a lazy day on the lake dock, Co-Cola in hand, and 10 being stuck in traffic between a root canal and an IRS audit, how crazy?

A 32 maybe?

By now everyone knows of Brees' comments to Yahoo Finance. There's a lot to digest in this. We'll start with the background, the statement and the backlash. Here is the text of his statement:

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. Let me just tell what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that's what I think about. And in many cases, that brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the '60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. And is everything right with our country right now? No, it is not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution."

The backlash has been an avalanche, from inside the locker room to across sports to across the entire spectrum.

Starting with All-Pro receiver and Saints teammate Michael Thomas, who Tweeted several responses to Brees, including "He don't know no better" and "We don't care if you don't agree and whoever else how about that."

Continued with new Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders: "Ignorant. SMH."

Moved around the league to future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers: "A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game. It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let's educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action. #wakeupamerica #itstimeforchange #loveoverfear #solidarity #libertyandjusticeforall #all."

It crossed sports to LeBron James: "You literally still don't understand why
@Kaepernick7 was kneeling?"

 

And maybe it was best summed up by Malcolm Jenkins, a former All-Pro safety and a Saints player who was part of the protests with Colin Kaepernick four years ago, who had this to say on Instagram: "Our communities are under siege, and we need help. And what you're telling us is don't ask for help that way. Ask for it a different way. I can't listen to it when you ask that way. We're done asking, Drew. And people who share your sentiments, who express those and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are the problem. And it's unfortunate because I considered you a friend. I looked up to you. You're somebody who I had a great deal of respect for. But sometimes you should shut the f--- up."


Jenkins continued in a later post: "Drew Brees, if you don't understand how hurtful and insensitive your comments are, you are part of the problem," Jenkins said. "To think that because your grandfathers served this country and you have a great respect for your flag that everyone else should have the same ideals and thoughts that you do is ridiculous, and it shows that you don't know history. Because when our grandfathers fought for this country and served and they came back, they didn't come back to a hero's welcome. They came back and got attacked for wearing their uniforms. They came back to people, to racism, to complete violence. And here we are with the world on fire and you continue to first criticize how we peacefully protest because it doesn't fit with what you do and your beliefs without ever acknowledging the fact that a man was murdered at the hands of police in front of us all and it has been continuing for centuries. That the same brothers that you break the huddle down with every single game, the same guys that you bleed with and go to battle with every single day go home to communities that have been decimated. Drew, unfortunately ... unfortunately, you're somebody who doesn't understand their privilege."

 

As for Brees debate

There's a lot of dissect here friends, and here are some observations in no particular order:

> First, Malcolm Jenkins' videos are very powerful and his thoughts are very well-constructed and worthy of our respect and deserve to be read and repeated and most importantly heard. His words really helped me see his perspective and his issue with what Brees said;

> Former Saints receiver Joe Horn's testimonial about Brees is also poignant. So is the realization that Brees has given more to inner-New Orleans charities than I will ever make — including being a real leader for the millions of people, minorities included, during and after Katrina;

> Side question: We asked Wednesday if you thought there would be kneeling before games, and a lot of the answers we received in the comments and in emails were no or not really. Anyone want to change that view point 24 hours later?

> Have you noticed that a lot of the folks who were draped in the "Shut-up and dribble" cloth have rallied around Brees' freedom to speak? Which continues my point that, it's "Stick to sports" when your non-sports tangents do not disagree with mine or make me uncomfortable;

As for my thoughts, well, there are several.

First, and this is the benefit of having a long-standing platform like this. This conversation started in 2010. Yeah, it will be 10 in October.

My stance on Kaepernick has remained pretty similar yet also has changed in that time, and at almost every station we have discussed those views here.

Kaepernick, like Brees, has every right to say what he wishes or protest anything he sees fit to. Each controls his words and actions; neither man though controls the reactions and the ramifications of those actions.

We've forever said whether you agree with Kaepernick's protests during the anthem or not, his choice to do it during that moving moment of patriotism was very shrewd in terms of impact and spotlight. Yes, it cost him his job as a quarterback, but it also etched his place in history and, considering how the very issue he was protesting has four years later become this — all of this destruction and violence and hate — that history will judge him rather fondly.

Brees' original statement, as Jenkins points out quite wisely, is flawed by several assumptions. First, he starts with 'I' — a tenuous place in this tenuous time unless it's surrounded by "How can I help?" 

Second, and I made this mistake in a lot of ways four years ago, but all of us must see and respect that the flag represents a lot of different things to all walks of Americans. And there have been several black people to remind Brees that they had family members fight for our freedom too, but only to return to this country to be hated and forced to use different diner counters and water fountains.

 

I feel the same way Brees does during the anthem, but my experiences are not the same as the experiences of others, so I can't expect my opinions and beliefs to be the opinions and beliefs of others.

 

Third, despite his repeated comments to the contrary — and a large part of white America refusing his words that he was protesting police treatment of minorities and not disrespecting the military or our country — Kaepernick's intentions were ignored, assumed and/or spun depending on the points of view of others. That happens in controversy, but the sprint to discuss, embrace or hate Kaepernick and his protests meant that his actions meant so many different things to so many different people and groups despite his repeated words about the mission and point of the protest.

 

And amid the violent hate that has come from the protests after George Floyd's killing, Kaepernick's approach seems way more American and patriotic than the current versions, no?  

 

And maybe most importantly, Brees' biggest mistake in my opinion was not his statement. Read his words above again. Could it be worded better? Of course, but those sentences at any other point of 99 percent of Brees' life would have been rather benign and somewhat forgettable.

 

But timing matters. Greatly. And perspective matters. Greatly.

And Brees' total lack of perspective of the fight for equality and justice of those who do not look like him was painfully clear in those words, and that is clearly painful for some many.      

(Breaking news: It's 8:31 a.m. and Brees has issued a huge apology on social media. It's here.)
 
 

Strike 2 or is it 3?

MLB owners and leadership have rejected the players association's counter offer that included a 114-game schedule. That's not getting us any closer to baseball games being played.

Then there was this news that the owners told the union that it did not plan a counter offer.

Uh-oh.

This comes at a precarious time considering several owners are already prepared to cancel the season for fiscal reasons.

This also comes on the heels that the Cincinnati Reds released 48 minor league players, which really makes it difficult to see the Chattanooga Lookouts having a season in 2020.

 

This and that

— One more Brees thought before I go. George Floyd's killing has had an undeniable impact on our country. In some ways that is most clearly seen in the reactions to Brees' comments. Think of it this way: Four years ago, a former Pro Bowl quarterback said "Kneeling was about racism and police brutality," and the masses answered with "Don't disrespect our military and country." Wednesday, a former Pro Bowl quarterback said, "Don't disrespect our military and country," and the masses answered, "Kneeling is about racism and police brutality."

— Speaking of controversy, well, here's another one. New FSU coach Mike Norvell told The Athletic he had "had a lot of open communication" with his players and "went back and forth individually with every player this weekend." Arguably FSU's best player — defensive lineman Marvin Wilson disputed that. Hard. Wilson said players got a "generated" text from Norvell. Here's the Twitter post from Wilson: "Man this (emoji for poop) did not happen mane. We got a generated text that was sent to everybody. There was no one on one talk between us and coach. This is a lie and me and my teammates as a whole are outraged and we will not be working out until further notice." Uh oh.
 
— In the actual sports world, friend of the show and one of the leading sports legal minds around Daniel Wallach pulled up a chair on Press Row on Wednesday to discuss all the ripples around the Zion Williamson case. Thought it was very interesting that Wallach said Coach K has little to nothing to worry about, in his legal opinion.

— Here's today's A2 column from a fat-faced white guy on some notable school system machinations in the last week or so.
 

— Because there are no sports and we are all making lists, well, CBSsports.com has started trotting out the top-five of each NFL franchise. First, there are some organizations like the Packers, Steelers and Cowboys that have a second five (and maybe even a third five) better than most team's top five. Second, how dreadful is this Falcons' top five? Mike Vick, Dan Reeves, Deion Sanders, Jessie Tuggle and Roddy White? Wow, that's bad.  


— You know the drill, and it's especially true when an SEC legend dies. Here's TFP college football expert David Paschall on Johnny Majors' death. He was 85.
 

 

Today's questions

OK, essay question. Thoughts on the Drew Brees hubbub? Go.

On this day in 1927, the first Ryder Cup happened and the U.S. cruised 9.5-2.5. USA! USA! USA!

Angelina Jolie is 45 today.

Also on this day in 1984, "Born in the USA" was released by Bruce Springsteen. Rushmore of Bruce Springsteen songs. Go, and remember the mailbag.

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