Charles Barkley reacted to the uproar over New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ comments about athletes kneeling during the national anthem, saying he didn’t agree with Brees at all, but found the “vitriol” against him to be “overkill.”
“Drew’s original statement, I thought, was insensitive,” Barkley explained during a panel discussion on NBA on TNT Thursday night.
He went on, “It was very insensitive, especially during this time, but I thought the negative reaction from every talking head on television and some of his teammates was overkill. I’ve never heard a bad word about Drew Brees in my life. He made a mistake but we’ve got to a point in society where everybody on social media thinks they are God, judge and jury.”
The former NBA star then referenced Brees’ charitable giving and hero status in the city where he plays, saying, “But I thought the way he was portrayed on television and radio today was not fair at all. Drew Brees has done some amazing things in New Orleans and in his life. I’m not even talking about football. He made a mistake in a statement.”
“I’m never gonna go with the mob,” he added.
Brees issued an apology Thursday after he was slammed Wednesday by fellow pro athletes and sports journalists for his original statement. When asked during a Yahoo Finance interview how he would feel if players started kneeling during the anthem Colin Kaepernick-style when the NFL season restarts, Brees said, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
“I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees wrote on Instagram and Twitter.