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Charles Barkley: Reaction to Drew Brees’ ‘insensitive’ comments ‘overkill’

Charles Barkley attempted to provide some perspective to the controversy surrounding Drew Brees’ polarizing comments this week on players participating in protests during the national anthem on Thursday night’s special edition of “Inside the NBA.”

Brees has been subjected to a vitriolic backlash in light of his comments Wednesday in which he unequivocally stated he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.”

The New Orleans Saints quarterback has since apologized twice — originally in a text-only Instagram post and again in a video shared on social media — in the wake of widespread condemnation, including from his own teammates.

Amid the wide-ranging discussion addressing the fallout from George Floyd’s death on May 25 while in Minneapolis custody, the “Inside the NBA” crew discussed the controversy surrounding Brees’ original remarks.

Weighing in on the vicious backlash Brees attracted due to his comments, Barkley believes that while the original rhetoric was “insensitive,” the case can be made that the overreaching negative reaction was an example of “overkill.”

“I want to make it clear: I did not like what he said right away, but the vitriol and animosity and hatred he just got for the last 24 hours, I thought it was overkill,” Barkley said, via TMZ Sports. “That’s just my personal opinion.”

The outspoken NBA on TNT analyst went on to defend Brees to a certain extent by arguing the superstar quarterback made a mistake, albeit a huge one.

“Drew’s original statement, I thought, was insensitive — it was very insensitive, especially during this time. But I thought the negative reaction from every talking head on television and some of his teammates was overkill,” Barkley said, as transcribed by Steven Loung of Sportsnet. “I’ve never heard a bad word about Drew Brees in my life. He made a mistake, but we’ve gotten to the point in society where everybody on social media thinks they are God, judge and jury. Drew Brees made a mistake.”

Fellow panelist Shaquille O’Neal interestingly shared that he was on the call Thursday during which Brees apologized to his teammates for his original comments and the ensuing firestorm.

The general consensus is that Brees unquestionably has a lot of work left to do to make amends for his comments, although Barkley is not the only high-profile sports media member to come to the quarterback’s defense.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy recently suggested that instead of condemning Brees, a dialogue instead should be initiated to discuss the issues brought forth by the original remarks.