Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson said he won’t accept New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ apology for comments about national anthem demonstrations. And in fact, Jackson also said he’s looking forward to facing Brees with the Saints on the Eagles’ schedule for a December matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jackson gave a wide-ranging interview with 6abc that was posted Saturday evening where Jackson discussed Brees’ comments, racism in NFL locker rooms, the widespread protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and more.
Jackson’s most pointed comments came when discussing Brees. Last week, Brees said he still viewed players who demonstrated during the national anthem as disrespecting the American flag and the U.S. military, and he cited pride in his grandfathers’ military service as the main reason for his stance.
Players who demonstrated during the anthem, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and former Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, have explicitly said many times since 2016 their protest is directed at police brutality and racial injustice and has no bearing on the flag or the military.
Brees’ comments met a swift and fierce backlash, and he later apologized. After President Donald Trump, a vocal critic of Kaepernick, tweeted that Brees did not need to apologize, Brees addressed the president and said the demonstrations have nothing to do with the flag.
Jackson, though, isn’t placated.
“I lost a lot of respect for Drew Brees,” Jackson told 6abc’s Jeff Skversky. “Great player, but very insensitive about the times and where he stands. I also did an Instagram post, I think ESPN showed it, and I said something like, my great-granddaddy and dad fought in the war, too, and they were getting spit on at the same time, so I understand where you’re coming from, but I said ‘F’ you for your mindset because you’re still not understanding where we’re coming [from].
“After three years of trying to talk about this and get notoriety of this, you’re still talking about kneeling for a flag, a flag that has oppressed people, that keeps beating people. … You have a president with the rhetoric that’s more with dictatorship than a democracy, so it’s one of those things that’s just like, for him to say that, just lost a lot of respect.
“Definitely excited playing them in the year. I’m going to have a lot to say, and hopefully I don’t get too wild with it. But I don’t understand how you could say that when you have people blocking for you that are black, when you have people catching the ball for you that are black, you have people running the ball that are black.
“I understand silence. Silence is bad, too, but sometimes you might just want to be silent, and I don’t accept his apology. I think he’s only apologizing because of people coming for him and people were disagreeing with him, and he understands his base in Louisiana is a lot of black people. So whatever happens, must be nice to make $25 million a year and have that stance.”
Read more: Philadelphia sees massive turnout for George Floyd protests ahead of citywide curfew
In a separate interview Friday, Jackson also discussed Kaepernick’s absence from NFL rosters after his demonstrations, along with the overall NFL attitude toward the actions of the players.
Brees’ comments — which earned rebukes from current teammates, other NFL players and notable sports figures, including LeBron James — came amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice after Floyd’s death.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and later arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while three other officers on the scene were fired and later charged with aiding and abetting.
Thousands of people, including Jenkins and current Eagles players Rodney McLeod, Brandon Brooks and Jake Elliott, marched through Philadelphia’s streets Saturday, and Jackson posted videos to his Instagram of his participation in a march in Los Angeles.
Read more: Drew Brees responds to Donald Trump on national anthem: ‘I realize this is not an issue about the American flag’
Jackson was among the players who ESPN reported spoke to the Eagles last week during a “powerful” virtual team meeting that also featured the participation of owner Jeffrey Lurie. Elliott and center Jason Kelce posted on social media that the meeting spurred them to speak out on issues of racial injustice.
Last fall, Jackson helped pay for the funeral of Atiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Texas woman who was shot by police.
Jackson also discussed racism in NFL locker rooms with Skversky.
“I think there are racist players,” Jackson said. “Hell, I’m not going to say names, that’s just controversy, but there are racist players.”
Jackson cited the 2013 Miami Dolphins, where offensive lineman Richie Incognito was suspended after fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin said Incognito hazed and bullied him, including with racist emails and voicemails.
“I’ve seen them,” Jackson said. “I’ve heard them. I’ve talked to them. … It’s one of those things that, like, it’s not hard to see. It’s one of those things, people come from different walks of life, and yeah, we come here, there should be no racism in the NFL, there shouldn’t be. But that doesn’t mean that there [isn’t]. We want to talk about the Martin kid and the Incognito guy in Miami, there are situations like that all the time — not all the time, I’m reluctant to say all the time — but those situations happen.”
Lurie has the reputation as a progressive owner, and the Eagles locker room is regarded as one of the more open ones in the NFL when it comes to social issues. Quarterback Carson Wentz and tight end Zach Ertz were among players who made statements in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, and a host of current and former players have spoken up about issues.
In his interview with 6abc, Jackson also discussed Jenkins and McLeod’s participation in the Philadelphia protests, the experience of marching in Los Angeles, what Jackson is trying to do to help protestors and more. You can watch the 10-minute clip on Facebook here.
Daniel Gallen covers the Philadelphia Eagles for PennLive. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Follow PennLive’s Philadelphia Eagles coverage on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
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