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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Photo: Mark Brown/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees elicited backlash on Wednesday for saying in a Yahoo News interview that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality are "disrespecting the flag of the United States of America."

Why it matters: Brees' comments come in the wake of George Floyd's killing while in police custody last week. Major cities including Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Portland have had consecutive days of massive crowds protesting police-related violence against black people.

  • Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the national anthem in 2016, sparking a movement to protest racial inequality.
  • Kaepernick opted out of his contract in 2017 after the San Francisco 49ers planned to release him following national outrage. 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.
  • In 2016, Brees spoke in support of Kaepernick's message, but he openly disagreed with his tactic.

What they're saying: Brees' remarks on the flag drew a sharp rebuke on social media from his fellow professional athletes.

  • LeBron James tweeted in response: "WOW MAN!! Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of [the flag] and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free."

Brees also said that while he stands "right there with [his teammates] in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice," he defends the "grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis."

  • Devin and Jason McCourty, twins who play for the New England Patriots, tweeted from a joint account: "This is a disgrace! To speak about your grandfathers as if there weren’t black men fighting next to them. Those men later returned to a country that hated them."
  • "Don’t avoid the issue and try to make it about a flag or the military. Fight like your grandfathers for whats right!"

Go deeper

LeBron James on Trump NBA protest remarks: "We could care less"

The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James kneels during the national anthem before the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Wednesday. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LeBron James responded on Wednesday night to President Trump's comments calling NBA players "disgraceful" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and that he won't watch games if they knelt.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly criticized sports players for taking the knee since 2016. But James said during a news conference, "I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game." November's elections marked "a big moment for us as Americans," he said. "If we continue to talk about, 'We want better, we want change,' we have an opportunity to do that," he added. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league will "respect peaceful protest."

Go deeper: LeBron James forms voting rights group to inspire Black voters

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.