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Culture

Two NFL Apologies

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson and wide receiver Mike Evans kneel for the anthem before the game against the Minnesota Vikings, September 24, 2017. (Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

So Drew Brees defended the American flag and all it stands for, said he didn’t agree with kneeling for the national anthem and correctly described this gesture of open disrespect as disrespect. “Is everything right with our country right now?” said the Saints’ future Hall of Famer. “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.”

So much anger followed that Brees felt forced to give groveling apology after groveling apology. One of his own teammates, Emmanuel Sanders, called him “ignorant.” LeBron James criticized Brees also.

Philadelphia Eagles star DeSean Jackson posted a (fake, but in-character) Adolf Hitler quotation that was nakedly anti-Semitic (white Jews will “will extort America, but their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were.”) together with praise for the most notorious of American anti-Semites, Louis Farrakhan.

His apology amounted to, “Oops.” Jackson said in an Instagram video, “I post things on my story all the time, and I just probably should’ve never posted anything that Hitler did because Hitler was a bad person, and I know that. I was just trying to uplift African-Americans and slavery and just enlighten my people.” Oh. He also said, “My post was definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community.’’ The Philadelphia Eagles’ owner, Jeff Lurie, is Jewish. Jackson later issued a second apology in which he still claimed “My intention was to uplift, unite and encourage our culture with positivity and light” but allowed, “Unfortunately, that did not happen. I unintentionally hurt the Jewish community in the process and for that I am sorry.”

Contrast Jackson’s tone with what Drew Brees said: “It breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees wrote in an Instagram post (this was his first apology). “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.” He said he had exhibited a lack of “awareness and any type of compassion or empathy,” adding that he was  “sick about the way” his comments “were perceived.”

In his second apology, Brees said, “I know there’s not much I can say that would make things better right now, but I just want you to see in my eyes how sorry I am for the comments I made yesterday. I am sorry, and I will do better, and I will be part of the solution, and I am your ally.” Brees’s wife, Brittany, also felt moved to apologize. “WE ARE THE PROBLEM,” she said on Instagram. “I write this with tears in my eyes and I hope you all hear our hearts.”

Geoff Schwartz, a Jewish former NFL lineman, told the New York Post he hadn’t seen any NFL players react to Jackson’s hideous remarks. “There was more outrage, people were more upset with Drew Brees than they were with DeSean Jackson . . . that’s just — I didn’t expect much, I really didn’t. I haven’t seen one NFL player talk about it.’’

Anybody else feeling a loss of interest in the NFL as an institution? I know I am.

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