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Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees apologized on Instagram on Thursday after drawing criticism for saying athletes who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice are disrespectful.

What he's saying: "In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country."

  • "I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference."

Brees's comments come as thousands in the country are protesting the death last week of George Floyd while in police custody.

Background per Axios' Ursula Perano: Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem in August 2016, after several unarmed black people had been shot by police over the summer, to protest racial inequality.

  • Kaepernick drew national outrage, including from President Trump, for his gesture.
    • He opted out of his contract in 2017 after the San Francisco 49ers planned to release him following the controversy.
    • He then became a free agent, but was not signed by another team.
    • He alleged in 2018 that NFL team owners colluded to keep him off rosters due to his politics.

Go deeper

Biden clarifies comments on African American and Latino communities

Joe Biden delivering a speech in Delaware in July. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Joe Biden explained on Twitter Thursday night what he "meant" by earlier comments suggesting that "the African American community is a monolith."

What they're saying: "Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things," Biden remarked in an interview hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the National Association for Black Journalists, Politico reports.

48 mins ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia structures in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.