Saints held a team meeting on Drew Brees' comments and apology, Shaq attended

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"Drew we know your character...we want you to do more positive things and less talking." - Shaquille O'Neal on the response from teammates to Brees' apology

NBA on TNT conducted an “at home” show on Thursday evening where Shaquille O’Neal addressed what was said inside the Saints team meeting on Thursday. The team meeting, scheduled two weeks ago, was not a result of Brees’ comments according to HC Sean Payton. “So about two weeks ago I was contacted to speak to the Saints players. My speech was about team and unity then this happened.” O’Neal said.

Saints QB and captain Drew Brees, during an interview with Yahoo Interview, said he “Will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.” The comments started a social media storm that included backlash from celebrities, teammates, and other NFL players. Brees has since apologized via Instagram with a lengthy post and later a video. Brees said his words “lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy.” 

View this post on Instagram

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. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character. This is where I stand: I 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. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening...and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

The entire team meeting was via a video conference call.  The gathering was held on Thursday evening and focused on discussing the events since his Yahoo Finance interview.  Drew addressed the team and apologized for his comments. Saints Punter Thomas Morestead called the meeting "a necessary conversation, not only for our team, but just as men.”  While an unnamed player said "it got real in their discussions", and "it was emotional". 

Some Saints players have expressed their thoughts via social media. RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas both went to twitter to describe conversations with Brees.  Defensive Captain LB Demario Davis called Brees’ apology “leadership at it’s finest”. The Saints locker room has a long way to go but the current situation will stay “in house” according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini and TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal.

So what is next for the Saints? Saints News Network's GM and Reporter Kyle T. Mosley wrote:

Sometimes a leader can stumble and work to regain his/her footing with those they have let down. Brees stands in this position today. Can he truly understand, empathize, and move closer to sympathizing with his minority teammates? Or, is it more important for him to hold his views? These points must be addressed before training camp begins in July.

Drew Brees is the most accomplished New Orleans Saints player in the history of the franchise. He's been a model New Orleanian, NFL spokesperson, and compassionate philanthropist for people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region since he arrived in 2006. At this point in his career, the most challenging opponent for Brees may not be COVID-19, or a 41-year old body, nor a lack of fan support in the Superdome; but, his comments. In 2020, he will need his teammates to help reach and win Super Bowl 55 in Tampa. Not physically on the field, but emotionally in and out of the locker room.

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