“Why Shaq was on the phone for Drew Brees’ private Saints apology”
June 5, 2020 | 1:24pm
Previously scheduled to speak with the Saints, the NBA Hall of Famer ended up on a conference call with the team sent into turmoil by Drew Brees’ controversial remarks, amid nationwide protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. After angering multiple teammates — and New Orleans natives — Brees issued a pair of public apologies, accepted by running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas, among others.
O’Neal provided some insight on the private apology offered by the Saints’ longtime leader.
“About two weeks ago, I was contacted to speak to the Saints players today,” the former LSU star said Thursday on TNT. “Then, this happened. I’m not going to get into because coach (Sean) Payton doesn’t really want us to get into it, but I was on the call today when Drew apologized to his teammates, and most of his teammates accepted his apology.
“They said, ‘Drew, we know your character. We know you stepped into some stuff that you can’t get out of, but guess what? We want you to do more, more positive things and less talking.’ And they all said, ‘We accept your apology.’ … He made a mistake.”
In his public apology, Brees said he took “full responsibility and accountability” for his interpretation of the Colin Kaepernick-led protests during the national anthem in 2016, intended to draw attention to racial injustice and police brutality.
“I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees said. “They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.”