Drew Brees instantly walked back last week's remarks about players “disrespecting the flag," apologizing profusely on social media. The longtime Saint even pushed back on President Donald Trump, who didn’t feel the quarterback’s apology was necessary.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Hollywood director Spike Lee, who has often touched on themes of race in his movies (Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, in particular), joined the Saints via Zoom conference during Tuesday’s team meeting. The 63-year-old Brooklyn native spoke to the team for 45 minutes, sharing his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement and protests stemming from George Floyd’s tragic death in Minnesota last month. Lee, who won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his 2018 film BlacKkKlansman starring John David Washington (son of Denzel Washington) and Adam Driver, reportedly made a strong impression on players while commending Brees for his strong response to President Trump.
Though Brees drew intense scrutiny for last week’s comments, at least some good has come from his gaffe. The 41-year-old’s blunder has further fueled the national dialogue on race and police brutality while forcing Brees and others (Reds first baseman Joey Votto among them) to confront their “white privilege.” After staying silent for nearly two weeks, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finally spoke up last Friday, voicing his support for Black Lives Matter while acknowledging the league shouldn’t have waited so long to issue its response. In an effort to better educate players on topical issues such as systemic racism and social inequality, the Patriots enlisted the help of Rahsaan Hall, the ACLU’s racial justice director of Massachusetts, in addressing these matters during a recent team meeting.
While there’s no denying it’s been a difficult few weeks in our nation, Lee has been inspired by what he’s seen. “To see the young white generation, my sisters and brothers, they’re out there. It’s not just black and brown people,” Lee told Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s The Tonight Show. “So I’m very, very enthusiastic that people around the world were galvanized by the horrific murder of George Floyd.”
Actions will always speak louder than words, but in times like these, talking helps too.