NEW ORLEANS —
Saints linebacker Demario Davis says that his quarterback Drew Brees is the "model of leadership" after apologizing for his comments against kneeling protests during the national anthem.
Brees came under nationwide fire Wednesday after he was asked in an interview with Yahoo Finance if he'd support players who knelt in protest of police brutality during the upcoming NFL season.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said.
His stance was met by criticism from teammates and fellow athletes alike, including LeBron James and current Saints safety and NFL veteran, Malcolm Jenkins.
“With Malcolm's response, it's the sentiment where you can see the emotion that’s reflected throughout the entire black community -- of just being exhausted by people missing the point," Davis said.
On Thursday morning, Brees posted an apology for his remarks, saying in part:
"I was 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."
Davis said Brees coming out to apologize, at length, about his comments during national protests following the killing of George Floyd, was a powerful move.
"His apology is a model of leadership, and you can see why so many guys in the locker room follow him. That’s because he came out against the grain and admitted that he was wrong," Davis said.
"He admitted he missed the point and he apologized and said, ‘I’m going to use everything I can to learn more and be part of the solution. There is a problem in the black community and we’ve ignored it for too long.'”
“That’s what America needs to do. That’s a model of leadership. That’s what hasn’t happened, is to say 'we have been wrong, we have missed the point,'" he said.
Saints All-pro receiver Michael Thomas, who many look to as one of the most vocal players on the team, tweeted a short message of approval following the apology.
"One of my brothers made a public statement yesterday that I disagreed with. He apologized & I accept it because that’s what we are taught to do as Christians. Now back to the movement! #GeorgeFloyd," Thomas said.
Davis said the momentum and emotions felt around the country need to continue through convictions for the four Minneapolis Police Department officers charged in Floyd’s death.
After that, he said, work needs to move to fixing what he called a “system of injustice” within the U.S. policing system.
On Tuesday, it was announced Davis, Pelicans' guard and NBA veteran J.J. Redick and young star Lonzo Ball will comprise the 'Social Justice Leadership Coalition,' organized by Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.
"We stand against police brutality in any form. Statements are words; unified action towards a solution is what needs to come from this now," Benson said.
Davis called Benson a "pillar of the community" following the announcement. He said she approached him about the coalition, and listened when he said the franchises, too, needed to lead with action.
Davis is now creating and selling face masks through his "Man of God" clothing line, which he created last season after he was fined by the NFL for wearing a headband with the same message. The move ingratiated the Saints' star linebacker even further with fans.
“People are protesting in the streets and we still have a pandemic going on. So I wanted to create masks that people can use while they’re out there, so people can represent their faith boldly and help out these families are hurting right now,” Davis said.
Davis said the proceeds of all mask sales will go to families impacted by the recent violence in the country.