Including his own Saints teammates.
Several of Brees’ most well-known teammates — including top wide receiver Michael Thomas — publicly excoriated the Saints legend over the course of Wednesday. It’s a trend that NBA veteran Stephen Jackson — a friend of George Floyd and leading voice in the protest movement — is happy to see as racial injustice takes center stage in American politics.
Saints players challenge Drew Brees on protest comments
The discourse began when Brees was asked about NFL players potentially kneeling in protest against Floyd’s death during the NFL season.
Brees responded with an answer similar to the one he gave in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick was first protesting racial injustice, that he viewed such protests as disrespectful to the American flag and military:
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 Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place
Pointing to the flag and military has long been a favored diversionary tactic for those opposing the protests of Kaepernick and others, a way to diminish the message by attacking the medium. It soon became very clear that such an answer wouldn’t be as accepted in 2020 as it was in 2016.
Among the Saints players to condemn or subtweet Brees’ comments were Thomas, safety Malcolm Jenkins, running back Alvin Kamara, defensive end Cameron Jordan, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and former top Brees target Marques Colston.
He don’t know no better.— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) June 3, 2020
One Saints players, defensive end Marcus Davenport, tried to defend Brees’ comments as misunderstood, but was immediately rebutted by Jordan. Several Saints players have also apparently unfollowed Brees on Twitter, another signal that an inevitable apology from Brees might not be enough to immediately repair his relationship with his teammates.
Stephen Jackson applauds reaction to Brees
One person watching all this play out was Jackson, who took to Instagram to applaud Thomas specifically for calling out Brees.
In blunt and profane terms, Jackson said it was the responsibility of Thomas and others to hold their white teammates accountable and not accept middling shows of support.
Warning, the following video contains NSFW language.
Jackson’s full comments:
Shout-out Michael Thomas man, way to hold Drew Brees accountable, Mike. I don’t give a damn if he throw you all them touchdowns. Hold his ass accountable. Bad timing, Drew Brees. Bad timing, bruh. Alright? You play for New Orleans and you live in New Orleans. All them black people in New Orleans support you. Drew Brees, you gotta be a little more sensitive to the timing. You can’t just be saying s--- out your ass.
You should understand, but y’all gotta hold all y’all white teammates accountable. F--- all that s---, you know what I’m saying? We gotta end that s--- now. Ain’t no straddling the fence, alright? Y’all got to check y’all teammates. Michael Thomas, I salute you bro. F--- Drew Brees. Way to check his ass. If you ain’t down with us, then you on the other side.
All that friend s--- and acting like you support us, acting like you really down with us, we ain’t buying that s---. All that half-assed supporting us? We ain’t down with that. The same motherf---er you half-ass supporting is the same motherf---you throwing them passes to that make you get all those goddamn yards. Facts, but y’all don’t like the truth.
Jackson has been among the most outspoken voices in sports following the death of Floyd, whom he called his “twin” and recalled having a close friendship. Jackson has even pledged to be a father figure to Floyd’s six-year-old daughter.
As more and more athletes speak out about the most sensitive issues, the ones that stay silent — or try to change the subject — have been receiving more scrutiny than ever before. Clearly, Jackson wants that trend to continue.