Drew Brees has attempted to apologise for his comments regarding player protests during the playing of the American anthem.
New Orleans Saints team-mate Malcolm Jenkins was among those to publicly scold Brees for his interview with Yahoo Finance.
Brees now says his comments lacked awareness, compassion or empathy.
When asked earlier in the week about players taking a knee during the pre-game playing of the Star Spangled Banner, Brees said, "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country."
He added, "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."
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.”
Full exchange: pic.twitter.com/MpCkFyOMed
— Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) June 3, 2020
In the aftermath, Brees' Saints team-mate Jenkins said he was "hurt" by the quarter-back's remarks.
Jenkins posted on Instagram to say they were extremely self-centred in light of the protests which have followed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officers.
"Our communities are under siege, and we need help," Jenkins added, "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."
In a lengthy Instagram apology of his own, which came with a stock image of a black and white fist inter-twined, Brees wrote: "In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered (sic) 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."
He now claims to have "always been an ally", and never an enemy.
Drew Brees statement:
"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."