Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes believes there was no ill will behind New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' comments regarding kneeling during the national anthem last week.
In an interview with TMZ Sports, Mahomes said: "I've known Drew for a pretty long time just being from Texas and I know that he's a good person and he has a good heart."
During an interview with Yahoo Finance last week, Brees said he was against players "disrespecting the flag" by kneeling during the anthem:
Yahoo Finance @YahooFinance
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 received backlash from both inside and outside the sports world for his comments. Even some of his own teammates, including wide receiver Michael Thomas and safety Malcolm Jenkins, condemned Brees' take.
The timing of Brees' comment was poor since it came on the heels of 46-year-old black man George Floyd dying while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd died after Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed on the back of Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes despite Floyd saying he couldn't breathe on multiple occasions.
Chauvin was fired and later arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death.
Brees took to Instagram and apologized for his comments, noting that he "completely missed the mark."
Brees added that he will "stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference."
Mahomes expressed his belief that Brees is truly remorseful and taking the right actions to prove that he supports the fight against racial inequality:
"Obviously, his statement missed the point and missed what was going on in the world today and took away attention from the movement that was going on and the peaceful protesting that was going on. ... But I think you see with his actions afterward, and I believe with his actions moving forward, you will see the true person that he is."
Kneeling during the anthem was popularized by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, as he was protesting against racial inequality, police brutality and social injustice.
Kaepernick and the Niners parted ways after that season, and the veteran signal-caller has gone unsigned ever since.
The NFL had been vocal in its stance against kneeling during the anthem, but given the current landscape, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said the league was "wrong" for how it handled protests.