ESPN’s Maria Taylor doesn’t quite buy New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ apology about his recent comments regarding kneeling in the NFL as a form of protest.
“Shame on you,” she said on ESPN’s “First Take” on Friday. “Would Drew Brees do this if there was no backlash? … Did your heart actually change?” Taylor questioned the sincerity of Brees’ apologies, which comes years after he has questioned NFL players’ protests of police brutality. “You were not doing the right things before, and I really wonder why the apology is happening now.”
She also questioned some sports fans’ willingness to defend Brees. “I’m exhausted and I’m tired of having to listen to someone say something like that, and then having to sit back, well maybe he didn’t, maybe it’s not in his heart,” Taylor said “When you reveal yourself to me and you say something like that and say it out of an intolerant mind and or heart or a non-empatheic heart and for the last five years all we’ve seen is countless deaths in the street. My patience left my body when I watched George Floyd take his last breath.”
Taylor, the host of ESPN’s “NBA Countdown,” gave her impassioned comments in a discussion with Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman on “First Take.” Taylor said in a football league that is predominantly African American, Brees should’ve been more aware that he could be seen as intolerant and that he didn’t need people dragging him on social media for him to make an apology.
“Maybe it’s not his whole heart that is bad, but something about empathy was off if the first thing out of your mouth was, ‘It’s disrespect. I will not tolerate anything that is disrespectful to the flag.’ That was the first thing,” Taylor said, adding that if Floyd’s death did not faze him to the point that he needed to change the way he would respond to a question about racial injustice, something was wrong.
“I don’t know if it’s your heart, I don’t know if it’s your mind. But I don’t accept either of them anymore. I don’t have to tolerate it anymore,” she continued. “And Drew Brees, I will accept your apology, but I don’t have to sit here and wonder what is wrong and what is right and guess if you’re a good person. I am not the judge or jury.”
Taylor concluded by saying that people everywhere can now speak out about injustice and intolerance without fear of retaliation from others, and she will not apologize for expressing her frustration.
“All I can do is let you reveal yourself, and countless people are doing that right now. And for the first time ever, they are reaping some kind of consequence that does not have any retaliation for me or the people that are calling them out,” Taylor said. “For the first time, I feel like I can go on TV and say certain things, for the first time people say they can tweet certain things, and people can be held accountable for the things they are putting on display. And I am not going to apologize for that.”
When asked during a Yahoo Finance interview earlier this week how he would feel if players started kneeling during the anthem, in the way Colin Kaepernick did, 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.”
Brees has since issued a written apology and a video apology. “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.
Charles Barkley also on Thursday addressed Brees’ comments and said that though his comments were “insensitive,” that the media and the Internet’s reaction to his comments was “overkill.”
“Drew’s original statement, I thought, was insensitive,” Barkley said. “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.”
Watch Taylor’s full exchange below:
I said what I said. pic.twitter.com/aYKZUUjJk6
— Maria Taylor (@MariaTaylor) June 5, 2020