NBC Sports columnist Peter King apologized Monday after using a reference from a source close to Drew Brees that described the backlash over his anthem-kneeling comments as something out of “Lord of the Flies.”
King initially wrote in his “Football Morning in America” column: “As one person close to Brees told me, the social-media rip jobs reminded him of 'Lord of the Flies.' In that book, normal British boys get stranded on a desert island and have to fend for themselves, and they spiral into savagery to survive. Sounds about right.”
But he backtracked Monday after receiving some heat from the reference.
“I am removing the reference to "Lord of the Flies" upon hearing from so many who found it offensive. I apologize for using it. I understand why some are hurt by it. You should be. I'll be more conscious about the full meaning of analogies,” he tweeted. “Thanks for keeping me honest.”
King was describing the fallout from Brees’ remarks in an interview with Yahoo Finance, which created a firestorm in the NFL.
Brees told Yahoo Finance he would disagree with anyone kneeling during the national anthem as a form protest.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States,” the 41-year-old quarterback told the outlet.
Brees likened standing for the national anthem as saluting the military.
“I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about," he said.
“And in many cases, that brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ‘60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. And is everything right with our country right now? No, it is not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution.”
Brees has since apologized twice but not before his Saints teammates and other star athletes reacted with visceral backlash. He then received a jab from President Trump for apologizing for his statements.
He responded to the president in an Instagram post on Friday night.
"Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It never has been," Brees wrote on Instagram.
"We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities," the quarterback continued. "We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform.
"We are at a critical juncture in our nation's history! If not now, then when?
"We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”