An open letter to Drew Brees

Mr. Brees,

Apology not accepted.

You stated your words “completely missed the mark,” as you apologized for telling people you’d “never” agree with anyone disrespecting the flag. Let’s start with that. You have demonstrated an intelligence over your career that you want us to believe failed you when you gave that interview earlier this week.

Someone who misses the mark throws a poor pass that is intercepted. Someone who misses the mark tosses a dart toward a dart board and it results in no points. Someone who misses the mark gives a best effort and it’s just not good enough.

You didn’t give your best in making your original comments; you spoke your truth. You’re allowed to have your truth (even in the authoritarian America the president is trying to establish), but it’s a flawed one.

I don’t know if you’re a racist, and I’m not about to accuse you of being one. But “never” disagreeing with anyone who disrespects the flag infers that someone like Colin Kaepernick and someone who physically stomps on the flag are the same. “Never” infers that you think Donald Trump was right when he angrily stated that any “son of a bitch” who takes a knee before an NFL game ought to be removed from the field. “Never” has echoes of the “America, love it or leave it” rhetoric that dominated Cold War thinking.

I‘m left to wonder if you’re apologizing for what you said and you really didn’t mean those words, or if you’re apologizing because much like the kid who gets caught what a hand in the cookie jar, you got caught.

I think you’re apologizing because you got caught. Such apologies aren’t sincere; they’re a response to being embarrassed.

Your apology includes a commitment to doing more listening. That’s good. I anticipate you’ll get an earful from teammates and other players from around the league and the sports world.

I’ll give you one idea to consider: Retire. You’ve made millions of dollars surrounded by African-American men who never enjoyed your privilege.

You didn’t live in fear of dying at the hands of a rogue cop. They did.

You didn’t graduate from a substandard educational system. Many of them did.

You never experienced being disliked or distrusted because of the color of your skin. They did.

Be sure you listen to them.

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