The New Orleans Saints are an un-Saints-like 2-2 this season. With quarterback Drew Brees making one last run with the team, the Saints are expected to be a strong candidate to contend for a Super Bowl. They still might, but things haven’t gone as planned. Star wide receiver Michael Thomas has been out with an ankle injury. Now he’s out for another reason that just may show the team is still reeling from its preseason discord.
Drew Brees made a simple anthem statement prior to the season
When George Floyd died May 25, the subject of racial inequality and police brutality became a hot topic among the sports world. It brought back memories of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Kaepernick’s kneeling during the anthem drew praise, criticism, and much attention.
In early June, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was asked what his thoughts were if players decided to kneel again during the anthem. He gave his opinion. “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said. “I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. 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. 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.”
Brees received tons of backlash from his teammates
Drew Brees’ opinion on kneeling during the anthem drew tons of criticism with some of that coming from his own teammates. In a now-deleted Instagram video, Brees’ teammate, the always outspoken Malcolm Jenkins, blasted his quarterback for sharing his opinion. “I saw Drew Brees’ comments, and they were extremely disappointing, extremely self-centered, and just shows a complete lack of awareness or care for the plight of teammates, your peers, and your countrymen,” Jenkins wrote, according to NBC Sports.
Jenkins said he “considered” Brees a friend (past tense), saying “People who share your sentiments, who express those and push them throughout the world, the airwaves, are 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 wasn’t the only teammate to rip the quarterback. Wide receiver Michael Thomas also posted a few posts on Twitter to share his displeasure with Brees. Thomas wrote, “He don’t know no better” and “We don’t care if you don’t agree and whoever else how about that.” Whether Brees was pressured into apologizing for his opinion or not, he did. Saints players then said everything was good as the season got underway.
Michael Thomas punches teammate during practice
Things still don’t appear to be going well in Saints Land. After four weeks, the New Orleans Saints sit at .500 and their top wide receiver, Michael Thomas, remains sidelined with an ankle injury. Thomas was upgraded to questionable earlier this week but then was quickly ruled out. He wasn’t out because of the ankle, however. Thomas won’t play because of disciplinary reasons.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Thomas is being benched for punching a teammate during a practice this week in preparation for Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Pelissero tweeted that Thomas decked Chauncey Gardner-Johnson during a fight in practice. That’s the reason Thomas won’t be suiting up against the Chargers.
Thomas and the Saints didn’t appear to be on the same page when the season began. There was a lot of tension and negativity stemming from various opinions on social injustice. When negative comments get personal, they just don’t disappear. Thomas’ latest move shows all still might not be well in New Orleans.