Amazing words & actions: How athletes are stepping up amid protests

Another week without a majority of live sports is in the books. But that doesn't mean the news took a break. Plenty from this week for us to tackle in Good Sports, so let's dive in: 

Drew Brees' learning experience

The New Orleans Saints quarterback created a firestorm last week with comments he made while discussing possible protests that might occur during the national anthem this upcoming NFL season. A timeline of his week: 

  • On Wednesday, Brees said in an interview he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country."
  • His comments were viewed as tone-deaf and were criticized by fellow athletes – including teammates – as completely missing the point about what the protests staged during the anthem have been about. 
  • On Thursday, Brees took to Instagram to apologize. 
  • Later Thursday, he issued a second apology on Instagram, saying in a video: "I am sorry. And I will do better. And I will be part of the solution. And I am your ally."
  • Then on Friday, President Donald Trump said on Twitter that Brees "should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag."
  • Later that day, Brees responded to the president with another Instagram post, standing by his apology and seemingly indicating he now realizes the protests were about police brutality and social injustice all along. "I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been," Brees wrote. 

Sports Pulse: After Drew Brees made comments about players protesting, here are some reactions from the players

USA TODAY

Athletes in action

Of course, the reason Brees was asked about possible protests during the anthem was because of the ongoing protests we've seen nationwide following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 while in police custody. Some of the words and actions we've seen from people in the sports world the past week: 

  • 'We will not be silenced': NFL players sent a powerful message to the league, challenging it to join the fight against racism. 
  • Roger Goodell: The NFL commissioner responded to the players' call, saying "We are listening. I am listening."
  • Michael Jordan: His Airness and Jordan Brand have committed to donating $100 million over 10 years to social justice organizations.
  • Coco Gauff: The burgeoning tennis star delivered a powerful speech at a Black Lives Matter protest. 
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo: The reigning NBA MVP joined several of his Bucks teammates for a march in Milwaukee.  

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bucks teammates march with a protests Saturday in Milwaukee. (Photo: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

  • Denver Broncos: Members of the NFL team, including star Von Miller, spoke at a protest rally and march in downtown Denver. 
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: The team took a powerful stand with a 2-mile walk to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office headquarters. 
  • Texas Longhorns: Members of the football team staged an emotional walk and rally, taking them from Texas Memorial Stadium to the state capitol building. 
  • More college football coaches: Dan Wolken on coaches in the south—Mark Stoops at Kentucky, Will Muschamp at South Carolina, Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss, Tennessee's Jeremy Pruitt—joining players in protests.
  • Anquan Boldin: The former NFL star urged us to fight system. 
  • Malcolm Brogdon: In an op-ed for USA TODAY Sports, the Indiana Pacers standout discussed what we must focus on once the protests fade.  
  • Larry Fitzgerald: "People and communities are suffering, lives are being lost and futures are being destroyed,” the Cardinals legend wrote in a powerful essay.  
  • Auburn Tigers: A large portion of the football team, as well as coach Gus Malzahn, joined a Black Lives Matter protest at Toomer's Corner. 
  • Blake Wheeler: The NHL player had strong words on white players becoming better allies.
  • Jim Harbaugh: The Michigan football coach protested police brutality. 
  • Lincoln Riley:"All lives can't matter until the black lives do too," the Oklahoma football coach said. 
  • Dak Prescott: The Dallas Cowboys QB said he's "disgusted and unsettled" by George Floyd's death and he pledged $1 million to improve police training.  

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