Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said Sunday after he and 13 teammates participated in a showing of unity during the national anthem that it was not a planned act. Going forward, the team is communicating to make sure they are all on the same page.
Defensive end Cameron Jordan was part of that display and spoke Wednesday in London about the issue. Here are his quotes in full, as transcribed by the Saints:
Reporter: "What are your thoughts on the events that happened in the United States this past weekend around the NFL and things like the plan in Green Bay for fans and the team to link arms?"
Cameron Jordan:"To begin with, it was rapid fire. Something that we've all been aware of, something that we've all been conscientious of this past year and a half, two years of (Colin) Kaepernick initially kneeling, bringing to light social injustices, bringing up topics that really hadn't been focused on, I think a lot of that surfaced and was brought to attention…It has now escalated to, where it’s odd you guys (British media asking first), for us to have a President create offense, whether you felt some type of way about it or not, it was like, hey, I feel that in this kneeling, in this whatever, we still pay homage to our flag, we still pay homage to our people, we still respect our troops, we still love everything about our country, and it's because we love our country that we have the ability to take this knee, the ability to place our hand over our heart, the ability to not only hum, murmur or sing the lyrics, but take pride in the national anthem. That still does not deter us from the fact that we are Americans. That's not going to deter us from the fact that we respect our flag, that we love being an American. It only gives us more pride to say, hey this is the day and age where I can show and demonstrate something, what's on my mind and what's on my heart, and prove this to the world that this is an important topic to pay attention to, while in the meanwhile trying to unify a single mind. Pushing forward, that's the question, is how do you go forward and bring in unity? Of course I'm completely in solidarity with the entire movement, but as I'm sitting, my hand is over my heart, as I'm sitting, my eyes are still searching for the flag, as I'm sitting, I'm still singing the national anthem, the same way I've done every time I've heard the national anthem since for as long as I can remember. At the end of the national anthem, I'm still kissing the flag on my helmet, I'm still buffing my helmet as I get ready for the battle ensuing. With that all being said, I want to bring to light everything that's happened. You can't forget everything that we have to go through."
Reporter: "Do you think the message is getting across? Even on Monday Night Football it seemed like there was a lot of negativity from Cowboys fans."
Jordan:"A lot of negativity, and a lot of positivity. Don't get it twisted. We are the American people, we are people who pull together and are united. There is nothing about that in this rift, there can still be understanding. That's what you're really pushing for. Understanding and unity is all that you can really push for. It's the 21st century. At this point, love should overcome that hate, and be the bridge upon which people can come together in light of everything that's happened."
Quarterback Drew Brees stood during the anthem and defended his decision after the game. Here is what he had to say Wednesday after practice:
Reporter: "Piggybacking on Cameron Jordan’s comments a little, how much have you guys had a conversation about what may or may not happen when the national anthem is played on Sunday?"
Drew Brees: “Cam (Jordan) and I had a long conversation on the way over here and there are conversations taking place amongst guys on the team. I think we’re trying to find the best way to handle this, to show unity, and yet show respect for the flag as well. I am not sure if it is going to be something this week. But I am sure it will be something at some point.”
Reporter:"You said you respected the cause or you didn’t necessarily support sitting or kneeling, have you changed your opinion on that with those conversations?"
Brees: “No I still feel like if you are an American you should stand and show respect to the flag and what it symbolizes. Certainly I respect the cause. I think what you saw last weekend especially was a direct result of the comments that President Trump made. Unfortunately I think he put all athletes, all black athletes, minority athletes, he put them in a corner and forced them to take action. So that was unfortunate that he made the comments that he made. And I don’t blame the guys for feeling like they needed to do something as a reaction to that.”
Reporter:"When you say you talked to Cam and some of the other guys are you hoping that whatever you guys do you do all 53 of you this week?"
Brees: “Whatever we do, yes, those have been the discussions that have taken place. We want to find something that we can do together that shows unity and does not show division. But at the same point I think that we are all are very much on the same page as far as the cause is justified. It’s just the means by which the protest (is conducted), the awareness is raised. How can we do that in a respectful manner?”
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