Green Beret Behind Kaepernick’s Kneeling Says Brees Is a ‘Good Dude’

Tim Kelly
June 04, 2020 - 12:45 pm

Former green beret Nate Boyer, the man who convinced Colin Kaepernick to protest by kneeling - rather than sitting - during the national anthem, spoke out Thursday about Drew Brees' controversial comments.

Brees issued a lengthy apology Thursday morning after his comments about peacefully protesting during the national anthem drew widespread condemnation. Boyer had a nuanced reaction to what Brees had to say Wednesday.

"I'll just speak on the Drew Brees thing really quickly - he's a really good dude, man," Boyer said Friday to Ben & Woods on 97.3 The Fan in San Diego. "He does a lot for the city of New Orleans, for the community, whether it's post Katrina or helping secure voting rights for formerly incarcerated people in Louisiana - he helped lead that charge with some of the Saints' players. Even what he said in his response, well, he said what he said, so I don't know what he meant exactly. But I absolutely don't think he meant to ostracize himself or make this issue about something that it's not. But the fact of the matter is that we've gotta - for these guys that are working really hard in the league, a lot of these players - make sure that the narrative is understood that the protests are about racial inequality, social injustice and policy brutality and that kneeling during the anthem was a mechanism to raise that attention and to get those those voices heard. But it's not about disrespecting the flag or disrespecting the military and I think Drew knows that.

"I also understand what he was talking about in the other part of that video when the anthem plays, because I feel the same way. And that's not a bad thing to feel patriotic. It's not a bad thing to love your country and want to stand with your hand on your heart. But if other people don't feel the same way, it's just that acknowledgement and understanding that 'Hey, I'll stand for you, and until you feel that way, maybe you shouldn't. But when you do, I'm looking forward to the day that you feel the same way that I do and I'll keep fighting to make it happen until that day comes.'"

In 2016, Brees said that he didn't believe that peacefully protesting during the national anthem was an appropriate way to fight against police brutality. He was asked Wednesday if recent high-profile cases - such as George Floyd's murder -have changed his perspective at all.

"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."

The clip quickly blew up on the internet, and Brees attempted to clarify his thoughts in a second statement 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."

Wednesday evening, Saints' defensive end Marcus Davenport and former wide receiver Joe Horn did come to the defense of Brees. However, Malcolm Jenkins, Michael Thomas, Cameron Jordan and Emmanuel Sanders, some of his most notable teammates, bashed Brees' comments. LeBron James and Aaron Rodgers, two of the most accomplished athletes in the history of their respective sports, did as well.

Thursday morning, Brees issued an apology on Instagram.

You can listen to Boyer's full comments below:

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