The feud between Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints teammates, particularly defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, feels like yesterday.
Time flies, though, and the NFL is nicknamed Not For Long for a reason. One of the offseason’s biggest storylines and something that seemed like it could divide the Saints has mostly been forgotten about in recent months.
Drew Brees and Malcolm Jenkins feuded over the national anthem
A veteran defensive back who spent the last few years in Philadelphia, Malcolm Jenkins returned to the Saints in March.
New Orleans drafted Jenkins, a former All-American from Ohio State, in 2009. Jenkins stayed in New Orleans through 2013 before he signed with Chip Kelly and the Eagles.
Jenkins’ return to New Orleans began with a public fight between him and Brees, the Saints’ longtime quarterback. In a June interview with Yahoo Finance, Brees was asked about players kneeling for the national anthem.
Brees responded, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Jenkins, who peacefully protested throughout the 2016 and 2017 seasons, didn’t hold back in a now-deleted Instagram video. The veteran defensive back said people like Brees who critiqued those that took a knee for the anthem, “were the problem.”
“And it’s unfortunate, because I considered you a friend, I looked up to you as somebody I had a great deal of respect for, but sometimes you should shut the f**k up,” Jenkins said.
Brees later issued a public apology and the two made up.
Jenkins believes the incident bought the Saints closer
The public spat between Drew Brees and Malcolm Jenkins looked like it could have ripped the Saints apart.
Actually, in Jenkins’ eyes, the controversy may have done the opposite.
According to Pro Football Talk, Jenkins recently reflected on the incident in a session with reporters. In hindsight, Jenkins said, the anthem controversy looks like it benefited the Saints.
“Yeah, I think if anything, the team was probably closer for it because we’ve had to have tough conversations and oftentimes, those adversities or those intimate kind of engagements, bring people closer, and I think this is no exception.”
Brees recently said he still intends to stand for the national anthem this season.
Malcolm Jenkins should hope he’s right
Malcolm Jenkins can talk all of the talk he wants about the Saints getting along after the national anthem incident.
For his and the Saints’ sakes, Jenkins should hope they walk the walk, too. New Orleans has endured three straight heartbreaking playoff losses and could be entering the final year with Brees at quarterback.
Brees turns 42 in January. New Orleans signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston as a backup and Brees’ possible heir earlier this year.
The Saints don’t have time to mess around and hope for “next year” at this point. Tom Brady is now in the NFC South Division and both the Falcons and Panthers should be improved this season.
Actions speak louder than words — or in Brees’ case, standing. If the Saints are genuinely past the controversy, they need to rally together and make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 12 seasons.