A former New Orleans Saints teammate of Drew Brees has spoken out against the quarterback's "hurtful" and "insensitive" remarks in the wake of George Floyd's killing.
Brees received criticism for his comments that he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country."
Brees later rowed back on those remarks, saying he had lacked awareness, compassion or empathy.
Lamar Louis shared a locker room with Brees during his time as a running back with the Saints. The 26-year-old has also been on the roster at the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, and Dallas Cowboys.
He joined OTB Sports' Shane Hannon for an exclusive interview, alongside former NFL long snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, and he told us he felt Brees had been insensitive.
"I was just hurt, man. I feel like you [Brees] had a second opportunity to bring people together, and you blew it. It's basically doubling down on crucifying Kap [Colin Kaepernick] and what he stood for, that's how I took it.
"He's had relationships with so many people of colour, and I don't disregard the service he has done in the past, but five things done well don't discount the current issue or the current wrong [he] did.
"That's what people fail to see. With Drew, [he has] a responsibility as a leader, and a responsibility that a lot of athletes don't like to take up. But you have that, bro.
Drew Brees was once my teammate. Had a long intellectual talk with him in the cold tub once. Drew..... you’re a smart man. This ain’t ignorance. This is picking a side and not caring enough to fight for justice because you’re comfortable within your own bubble. Silence is murder!
— Lamar Louis (@_ball_is_life23) June 3, 2020
"I don't think he did the best job. Yes, he came out and apologised but there's going to be some healing there man. It's almost as if... and it's just the way he said it. Because no-one was talking about the flag, no-one was talking... he decided to bring that up.
"There's a lot of angry people, I'm not angry at that situation but it was very hurtful."
Nate Boyer, who inspired the 'take the knee' method of protest with Colin Kaepernick back in 2016, agreed that Brees' reaction left a lot to be desired.
"What I noticed that frustrated me, Drew's a great dude and he's done a lot in the community. He's helped secure voting rights for formerly incarcerated people in Louisiana, he helped that movement with the [New Orleans] Saints.
"At the same time, all the emotions he was talking about when the anthem is played and the flag is raised, I feel those exact same things, so I totally relate to that.
"But what he failed to acknowledge, and this is just my opinion, all he had to say was 'That's how I feel, and that's my experience, and I can't expect everyone to feel that just because I do.'
I’m sure @drewbrees still honors our magnificent American Flag, as do I. Just because we stand with, and even FOR those that don’t feel inspired to right now, doesn’t mean we don’t revere it, cherish it...and guess what, it doesn’t necessarily mean those that kneel don’t either🇺🇸 https://t.co/Pblf8vmshw
— Nate Boyer (@NateBoyer37) June 6, 2020
"It just took away from the narrative too, because the narrative is not about protesting the anthem, Colin Kaepernick wasn't asking us to change the American flag to something else, or whatever.
"He was using that platform because he doesn't feel those symbols are holding up to the promise of what America is supposed to be. It's always been about police brutality, social injustice and racial inequality.
"That's the narrative. And the media has done such a good job of twisting that narrative, and pulling it away, and making it about gestures and who's taking a knee this week in the NFL. It just fed into that."
Louis agreed and said Brees just hadn't fully grasped the significance of his words.
"The negative comments I saw were 'You can't force him to feel this way', 'You can't force this upon him', I understand that. But at the same token, that's his experience.
"And I'm not discrediting that experience at all, just like in life there are some experiences I've had. But basically it was just the insensitivity, not really recognising how sensitive the topic is.
"You have a lot of hurt people out there, so it could have been a number of different things."