Brees spoke out against kneeling during the anthem when Kaepernick first began protesting in 2016. His stance hadn't changed when interviewed by Yahoo Sports' Daniel Roberts:
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Highlight: @readdanwrite asks @drewbrees what the star NFL quarterback thinks about "players kneeling again when the NFL season starts." @drewbrees: “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.” Full exchange: https://t.co/MpCkFyOMed
Brees issued an apology Thursday on social media. Thomas responded to the apology on Twitter:
Kaepernick told NFL Network's Steve Wyche in August 2016 he wasn't going to stand for the anthem and "show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
Many have turned their attention toward those comments in the wake of George Floyd's killing.
Floyd was removed from his vehicle by Minneapolis police officers who were investigating an alleged forgery in progress. A video showed one officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes despite Floyd saying he couldn't breathe. He died later at a local hospital.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday he was upgrading a murder charge against Chauvin to second-degree murder. The three other officers involved are facing a charge of aiding and abetting a murder.
Across the country, demonstrators have marched through cities and protested to demand action addressing police brutality and systemic racism, issues Kapernick highlighted almost four years ago.
Brees' comments echoed one of the loudest arguments made against the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
Beyond misinterpreting the purpose of Kaepernick's protest, Slate's Joel Anderson explained how military veterans aren't a monolith. Some returned home from serving and continued to be the victims of discrimination.
For Thomas, Brees' apology appears to have been enough to ease his mind. Others, however, might echo the thoughts of NFL Network's Jim Trotter, who's waiting to see the 13-time Pro Bowler put more actions behind his words.