When Saints quarterback Drew Brees angered many of his fellow NFL players by equating kneeling during the national anthem with disrespecting America, one of the players he reached out to was former teammate Benjamin Watson.
Watson said on the podcast hosted by New England’s Devin and Jason McCourty that he had a good talk with Brees, but wants to hear more from him about whether his views have changed going forward.
“My initial thoughts on the comments were: I know Drew. We’ve had this conversation before. Even though I wasn’t on the team with him in 2016 . . . I remember this happening and I remember him saying the exact same thing, so I wasn’t surprised,” Watson said, via MassLive.com. “A lot of people were taken aback by what he said. I totally understand that because of the atmosphere we’re in right now. I spoke to him. We had a long conversation. He was really beat up about it. He was very remorseful not necessarily for his stance about the flag, but for being tone-deaf when he said it. And for not being able to bring the conversation back to where he could show the empathy that I know that he has.”
Watson did indicate, however, that he’s not sure whether Brees fully understands the perspectives of the players who kneel.
“Since then he’s apologized and I forgive him for whatever needs to be forgiven. But I think the larger conversation is: ‘What has he learned from here and how can he be more empathetic from here,” Watson said. “He doesn’t have to prove that he loves Black people to anybody. That’s what I don’t want him to feel like he has to do. He cared before and was doing things in the community. There has to be a conversation with many of those people who were legitimately, genuinely and rightfully hurt because of who he is and how people, especially in New Orleans, love him and look up to him.”
Most players who know Brees seem to have accepted his apology, but whether he can persuade them that he is on the same page with them about racial justice remains to be seen.
Ben Watson accepts Drew Brees’ apology, wants to hear what he’s learned originally appeared on Pro Football Talk