- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2020

Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, just ruffled a lot of far-leftist feathers by saying that he opposed the idea of NFL players taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem.

And this is where patriotic Americans have an opportunity to get involved: by barraging Brees with letters and emails and social media posts of support.

This is the time for all the couch-potatoing political critics of the conservative crowd — the ones who scream loudly at the television, as a means of venting against liberal overreach, the ones who tsk-tsk and shake heads in disapproval at the rising tide of anti-Americanism among today’s youth, the ones who raise fists figuratively and slam palms on tables in frustration over Democrats’ deceptions, media lies and unbelievably brash acts of defiance against the Founding Fathers — this is the time to get involved.

It only takes a moment to send a message of thanks to Brees for taking a stand for country and flag.

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said, in answer to a Yahoo Finance question about the potential for players to kneel during the anthem when football season starts.

Brees then went on to describe where his mind and heart went during the playing of the national anthem and the waving of the American flag.

“I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Cops. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place,” he said. “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.”

That’s what a lot of Americans think about, theme-wise, anyway — the sacrifices of those who went before so that those who stand today can enjoy the blessings of a great and free country. Blessings that include the simple pastime called football.

For that, Brees has come under attack.

Jemele Hill, a former ESPN face who now writes for The Atlantic, tweeted: “Drew Brees is why people shouldn’t assume that just because someone white is around black people that they understand black issues.”

Brees‘ own teammates, Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, wrote similarly critical tweets.

“He don’t know no better,” Thomas tweeted.

“We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that,” Thomas wrote in a separate tweet.

“Smh… Ignorant,” Sanders tweeted.

L.A. Lakers star LeBron James weighed in as well, in tweeted reference to former NLF-er Colin Kaepernick, who started the whole taking-a-knee field movement a couple years back to protest police brutality.

“WOW MAN!! Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of [flag image] and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those,” James wrote.

Brees, for his part, doubled down on his remarks in an ESPN interview.

“I love and respect my teammates, and I stand right there with them in regard to fighting for racial equality and justice,” he said, ESPN reported. “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.”

And then, hours later, facing overwhelming criticisms, he apologized.

“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 (Wednesday). In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” he said.

But why is it pain and heartbreak to support the American flag, the National Anthem, the core symbols of American patriotism and greatness? It shouldn’t be.

“I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issue we are facing right now as a country,” he said on Instagram. “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.”

Actually: he didn’t miss any mark. He didn’t make remarks that were lacking in compassion or empathy. He spoke in favor of America, which is not, no matter how the left would like it believed, one and the same of speaking against justice for minorities, just police treatment of blacks and fair and equitable representation in the judicial system for all Americans, regardless of skin color.

The George Floyd in-custody killing by a police officer was tragic, horrific and quite bluntly, murderous.

And now the police will pay — at least, it’s hoped the involved officers will pay. Justice should be served speedily in this case, if only to help calm a righteously indignant nation.

But kneeling at the playing of the national anthem, as a show of protest before the American flag, are examples of political expression. And they simply don’t belong on the football field.

Sports are an American love.

Football is an American pastime.

The only divisions that belong on sports’ fields are those that are tied to the competing teams — the cheers and even jeers and trash talk of fans, the friendly wagers among the faithful followers of teams, the highs and lows of emotions that come from winning and losing and watching the “enemy” take home the trophy, but vowing to take it back the next year.

That’s sports.

That’s competition.

That’s American.

Athletics used to unite — even as they divided. Sports used to draw fans together in love of game, love of sport, love of competition — even as they divided by team. Now?

America’s sports fields have become just another talking point for political pundits, just another place for players and players’ fans and players’ coaches and team owners to get their political messages to the masses.

Brees sure could use some support from the true sports’ fans and patriotic Americans of the nation right about now. It’s a shame he apologized. It shows the utter pressures pro-Americans face right now from the hotly charged political partisans. But patriots ought to still stand strong with Brees on his initial messaging. 

It’s maybe the last chance to save a national pastime from devolving into a pot of anti-American vitriol where police are painted as enemies, the country is painted as inherently racist, the Constitution is pounded as unjust, and the game — remember the game? — is just another platform to air political grievances.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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