If 2020 is going to be the final season of Drew Brees' illustrious career, he has his work cut out to win some of the most important players on the New Orleans Saints back over.
After Brees said Wednesday that he still doesn't support protesting police brutality against African-Americans by kneeling during the national anthem, a slew of his teammates and the sports world fired back at him.
Add Malcolm Jenkins, Brees' once again teammate, to the list of athletes that ripped the quarterback for his comments Wednesday. Jenkins posted, deleted and then re-posted a four-and-a-half minute video criticizing Brees' comments, one that ended with him saying "I considered you a friend. I looked up to you. You’re someone I had a great deal of respect for. But sometimes you should shut the f---up:"
Jenkins returned to the Saints this offseason after five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. While former San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick elected to kneel during the national anthem, Jenkins began protesting in 2016 by raising a fist during the playing of the song. He's also worked with federal legislators to attempt to push for policies that improve relations between police and the their communities.
In the post, Jenkins says that Brees reached out to him as he was recording the video to discuss the comments that he made Wednesday. Jenkins, 32, says that he believed it was important to re-post the video "for anyone who wants to consider themselves at ally to know how these words and actions affect those who you want to help." He added that Brees' "words during his interview were extremely painful to hear and I hope he rectifies them with real action."
Wednesday, Brees was asked if he had changed his mind on being supportive of peaceful protests during the national anthem, something he has been a vocal critic of in the past.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees told Daniel Roberts of Yahoo! Finance.
"Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and 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 it 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 1960s 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's 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 a part of the solution."
After the clip began to blow up with negative reaction on social media, Brees issued a second statement, this one to ESPN's Mike Triplett:
"I love and respect my teammates and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice," Brees said. "I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis."
In addition to Jenkins, Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Cameron Jordan, three of the most prominent players on the team, have criticized Brees for his comments. LeBron James and Aaron Rodgers have been among the other sports stars that didn't take kindly to what Brees had to say Wednesday.
Theoretically, the Saints should be a Super Bowl contender in 2020. However, major team leaders feeling comfortable with blasting the greatest player in the history of the franchise publicly isn't insignificant. These are real, genuine feelings, and Brees has his work cut out attempting to make inroads with his teammates before the 2020 season begins.