Connect with us

NFL

Saints QB Drew Brees says his flag comment was a ‘missed opportunity’

Published

on

METAIRIE, La. — Drew Brees on Saturday reiterated his vow to stand with the Black community for social justice, saying it “broke my heart” and was “crushing” that his June comments about disrespecting the flag by kneeling during the national anthem made people feel differently.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback, who began his first training camp news conference with a prepared statement, said he will always stand for the national anthem because of what it means to him, but respects those who don’t to bring attention to social injustices.

“I acknowledge and respect anyone who chooses to kneel or any other form of peaceful protest to bring attention to the social injustices and systemic racism that so many have endured and continue to endure in our country,” Brees said.

Brees said he has continued to have many positive talks with teammates who were critical of his comments in June — specifically mentioning veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins, whom he called a friend and an “ally.”

Brees said he and his teammates have reconciled and “all of our goals are aligned” both on and off the field.

“This is not about me. Our focus as a team and group of leaders is on this season and all the things we can accomplish together for social justice,” Brees said.

“I’ve always been someone who has felt compelled to serve,” Brees said to begin his statement, adding that it was the main reason why he and his wife Brittany chose to come to New Orleans and help the community rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when he was a free agent in 2006. “I knew I had a chance to be a part of something much greater than myself. And the last 15 years in New Orleans have been some of the proudest, most rewarding moments of our lives.

“Going back to my comment on June 3rd, to think for a second that New Orleans or the state of Louisiana or the Black community would think that I was not standing with them for social justice, that completely broke my heart. It was crushing. Never ever would I feel that way. Now, I recognize that I missed an opportunity that day. I had an opportunity to talk about and emphasize the social injustices that exist for our Black community and our need as a country to support them and to advocate for systemic change. And my lack of awareness in that moment hurt a lot of people.

“I will always support and advocate for the Black and Brown communities in the fight for social justice. Always. … I’m the same person now that I’ve always been. I’m someone who cares deeply for people in my community, New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, people everywhere. I’m someone who will always address the inequities and the disparities that exist. I’m someone who has great empathy for those who are hurting, struggling or victims of injustice. And I’m someone who feels a great sense of responsibility to serve and to lead and to bring true equality to everyone.”

Several of Brees’ teammates have publicly accepted his apologies and applauded his sincerity — especially after he directed a message to President Donald Trump on social media insisting that, “We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our Black communities.”

Brees and his wife have also pledged a total of $10 million in donations to Louisiana this offseason for coronavirus relief, including their recent pledge of $5 million dedicated to providing health care in underserved communities. The Brees family was also the presenting sponsor of the Black College Football Hall of Fame’s “The Road to Equality” event.

Saints left tackle and team captain Terron Armstead said this week that he is “extremely confident” that Brees and his teammates will move forward in a positive manner.

“Drew faced everything head-on, and that’s all you can ask for,” Armstead said. “The best way to move forward is to face everything head-on. Invite any questions, comments or concerns.”

Saints coach Sean Payton also addressed the issue head-on following Brees’ comments in June, encouraging the team to have open, heartfelt discussions about their feelings instead of a regularly-scheduled team meeting over video conferencing.

Nearly two months later, Payton said he believes the team is ready to move forward.

“I think the locker room is in good shape,” Payton said. “I don’t see any need to address anything relative to that. I think the players’ focus will be on earning a roster spot and that’ll be most important. That’ll be the same for the coaches.”

Meanwhile, the 41-year-old Brees, who has already lined up a post-football career as a television analyst for NBC, said he has not made any decision on whether his 20th NFL season will be his last.

Although Payton hinted in the spring that he thought this could potentially be the quarterback’s last season, Brees said, “Man, I am not looking past one day at a time.”

“With the new normal, we’re navigating that. And I’m just taking it literally one day at a time,” Brees said. “Listen, I’m excited for this season. There’s obviously a lot of unknowns and a lot of variables and a lot of things that we’re gonna have to navigate. But I think that’s something we’ve always been good at.

“And going back to the reason I came back [for this season]. My wife and I had this conversation back when I made the decision. Yes, I’m coming back and I want to play for my team. But I also feel that this year is gonna be about something much greater than football. And, at this point, I think that was an understatement.”

Source link

NFL

Raiders’ Jon Gruden calls backup QB Marcus Mariota ‘dazzling playmaker’

Published

on

HENDERSON, Nev. — While Derek Carr is firmly entrenched as the Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback, the guy signed to be his backup, Marcus Mariota, impressed coach Jon Gruden on Friday, the third practice of training camp in which players wore helmets.

“He’s interesting,” Gruden said with a smile of Mariota. “He took off a couple times today and it really fired me up. He’s been hurt, but looks like the ankle really turned a corner. He’s a dazzling playmaker with his feet and that’s the key to his game.

“I saw glimpses of that today. It’s exciting. Started off slow on 7-on-7 [drills], but [he] picked it up, had a nice day. Had a real nice day.”

Indeed, Mariota, who lost his starting job with the Tennessee Titans to Ryan Tannehill last season, struggled early in practice, missing tight end Jason Witten badly on an intermediate pass to the right sideline. And he throws a different ball than Carr.

But it is Mariota’s scrambling ability and willingness to extend plays with his legs that makes him a good fit for Gruden’s offense. Even as Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, has said since signing as a free agent with Las Vegas in March that the Raiders were Carr’s team.

In fact, both Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft by the Titans, and Carr, a second-round pick of the Raiders in 2014, suffered season-ending broken legs on the same day in Week 16 of the 2016 season.

“It’s like weird, crazy things that link you together,” Carr said earlier in camp.

“I’ll tell you one thing, in our quarterback group you have to compete and that’s what I do. Anyone that’s around me, all I’m going to do is compete. I’ve had multiple starters in the NFL come in here and be in the same room as me. You can go through the list about who’s started games and who’s been in our quarterback room. It happens all the time, but when you go 7-9, people like to make up stuff.”

Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Mariota would push Carr, a three-time Pro Bowler and the franchise’s all-time leading passer who is coming off career highs in passing yardage (4,054), completion percentage (70.4%) and Total QBR (62.2) but is just 39-55 as a starter, with one winning season in six years.

And as Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN.com, “The best quarterbacks are the ones that have the wins; stats will follow.”

Mariota is 29-32 as a starter.

“Competition brings out the best in any player in any sport,” Olson said.

“I would say it’s the best competition that we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

Source link

Continue Reading

NFL

Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett ‘had lot of hesitation’ about playing before deciding not to opt out

Published

on

RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett said he “definitely had a lot of hesitation” about playing this season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockett’s concern stemmed from a preexisting heart abnormality as well as the fact that much of his family has asthma. Before the Seahawks drafted Lockett in the third round in 2015, medical checks at the scouting combine revealed that his aorta is on his right side. At the time, Lockett was briefly unsure if he would be able to continue playing football.

“So just with everything that happened in COVID, that was one of my biggest issues was just trying to make sure [this heart condition] wasn’t gonna affect me if I was able to go out there and play,” Lockett said Friday on a video conference with reporters. “Obviously, nobody really knows. You’ve got doctors who kind of give you what you need to know up front, what they think and what their biggest opinion is of it, but I think I had my chance to opt out, and I said that if I come up here, I’m gonna just play.

“I know that we’ve got Pete [Carroll], we’ve got a lot of older coaches. They don’t want to put themselves in a situation to get sick neither, so I told myself if they could do it then I know I could do it. And if I’m going to come out here and play, then I’m just going to do what needs to be done. I’m not going to stress about COVID. I did that from February to before we came into camp.”

The 27-year-old Lockett has led the Seahawks in receiving in each of the past two seasons.

His family experienced a scare earlier this year when a cousin contracted COVID-19. The woman had previously lived with Lockett in Seattle.

“It was bad,” he said. “I would get messages from her mom and she would send me like a long paragraph and stuff because my cousin never told me. She was just telling me how she was having a hard time breathing, she really didn’t feel good, and when I ended up talking to my cousin after she ended up overcoming it, she had told me that there was one day where her body was just aching so much she had told a woman … basically like she really didn’t think she was going to make it. She was like, she didn’t think her body was going to be able to deal with what she really felt another day.”

Lockett said the cousin has asthma, as does much of his father’s side of his family.

“That’s why it made me question if I wanted to come play,” he said. “I have a lot of stuff in my family to where I don’t want to put anybody in jeopardy.”

The Seahawks had one player, guard Chance Warmack, opt out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns. As of Friday, they had placed only one player on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and that was due to a false positive test to wide receiver John Ursua, who has since been activated and is taking part in practice.

Source link

Continue Reading

NFL

Colts’ Jacoby Brissett says he knows he’ll start at QB again somewhere

Published

on

INDIANAPOLIS — Jacoby Brissett might never start another game at quarterback for the Colts. But in his mind, he believes he’ll be a starter again in the NFL at some point down the road after he failed to hold on to the job in Indianapolis in 2019.

Brissett said he was surprised when coach Frank Reich gave him the news last winter that they were replacing him with veteran Philip Rivers as the starter. Reich acknowledged that Brissett, like any other player would be, was upset by the demotion.

“I still believe in myself,” Brissett said Friday in his first public comments since Rivers’ arrival. “I know I’m a starter in this league. I know I can play at a high level. I did it last year.”

Brissett became the starter when Andrew Luck announced his retirement two weeks before the regular season last year. The Colts gave Brissett a two-year contract, allowing him the opportunity to prove he could be the next franchise quarterback.

Brissett, however, didn’t consistently play at a level needed to lead a team to the playoffs last year. He started strong in leading the Colts to a 5-2 record, including victories over playoff teams Houston, Tennessee and Kansas City. But Brissett, who suffered a knee injury at Pittsburgh in early November, faltered down the stretch as the Colts lost seven of their final nine games to miss the playoffs.

He finished 29th in the NFL with 196.1 yards per game and was hesitant to take shots down the field.

General manager Chris Ballard gave an indication a change was going to occur when he said the jury was still out on Brissett at the end of last season. Rivers is a 38-year-old veteran who has passed for 59,271 yards and 397 touchdowns in his 16-year career. Brissett said he still plans to compete even though Rivers is now the starter.

“I really can’t say enough positive [things] about how he has been with this change, I guess — I don’t know another word for it, with me being here and also how he has just been,” Rivers said. “He’s an impressive guy to be around. The way he works at it and then how helpful he’s been with little things, ‘Here’s how we signal this. Here’s how I usually set that. Here is how I set that.’ Then the few things that I’m like, ‘Gosh, can we do this? Can we do that?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ll learn it. Whatever you are most comfortable with.’ So he has been super helpful, gracious.”

Brissett still has significant value to the Colts. Reich has said they plan to have special packages for Brissett to get him onto the field this season. And Brissett has to be ready to step in and start at any moment, especially with the uncertainty when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.

Brissett, like Rivers, will be a free agent at the end of this season. “I know I’ll be a starter in this league one day again,” Brissett said. “Wherever that may be.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending