NFL star Drew Brees has been hammered for his comments about respecting the American flag but the response that hit home most was that from his own teammate Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins and Brees played together at the New Orleans Saints years ago, and will team up again at the franchise when next season starts. But while they share the same uniform, they don't share the same view when it comes to how people should protest against racial injustice.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports, Brees was asked about the possibility of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem this season — as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others did in 2016.

Drew Brees has been criticised for his comments about respecting the American flag. Photo / Getty
Drew Brees has been criticised for his comments about respecting the American flag. Photo / Getty

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said.

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Brees said the flag reminds him of his grandfathers who fought in World War II and the sacrifices of so many to "make our country and this world a better place". He also acknowledged America isn't perfect, but argued standing for the national anthem "shows that we are all in this together".

Brees' mention of "disrespecting the flag" sparked outrage as protests rage around America championing the need for racial equality. NFL players, social media users and NBA star LeBron James all voiced their disbelief the 41-year-old would say such a thing given the current climate.

Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the anthem at New Era Field on October 16, 2016 in New York. Photo / Getty
Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the anthem at New Era Field on October 16, 2016 in New York. Photo / Getty

Jenkins, who made his NFL debut for the Saints and has returned to the franchise after a stint with Philadelphia, felt compelled to tell Brees exactly why he was so wrong.

Jenkins was close to tears on several occasions during his four-minute and 20-second video, which has gone viral and at the time of writing had been viewed more than 1.7 million times.

Jenkins' full response to Brees

"The onslaught of s*** that we have to deal with is f***ing crazy right now," Jenkins said.

"Drew Brees, if you don't understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments are, you are part of the problem.

"To think that, because your grandfathers served in this country and you have a great respect for the flag, that everybody else should have the same ideals and thoughts that you do is ridiculous. And it shows that you don't know history.

"Because when our grandfathers fought for this country and served and they came back, they didn't come back to a hero's welcome. They came back and got attacked for wearing their uniforms. They came back to racism, to complete violence.

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"Then here we are in 2020 with the whole country on fire, everybody witnessing a black man being murdered at the hands of the police in cold blood ... and the first thing that you do is criticise one's peaceful protest?

"That was years ago when we were trying to signal a sign for help and signal for our allies, our white brothers and sisters, the people we considered to be friends to get involved, it was ignored.

Protesters march against police brutality in Boston today following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. Photo / AP
Protesters march against police brutality in Boston today following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. Photo / AP

"Here we are now with the world on fire and you still continue to first criticise how we peacefully protest because it doesn't fit in with what you do and your beliefs?

"The same brothers that you break the huddle down with before every single game, the same guys that you bleed with and go into battle with every single day go home to communities that have been decimated.

"Drew, unfortunately, you're someone who doesn't understand their privilege. You don't understand the potential that you have to be an advocate for the people that you call brothers. You don't understand the history and why people like me, people with my skin colour whose grandfathers fought for this country and served ... I protested not against the national anthem, but against what was happening in America and what the fabric of our country stands for.

"If you don't understand that other people experience something totally different than you, then when you talk about the brotherhood and all this other bulls***, it's all lip service or it's only on the field.

"Because when we step off this field and I take off my helmet I'm a black man walking around America and I'm telling you I'm dealing with these things. I'm telling you my communities are dealing with these things and your response to me is, 'Don't talk about that here, this is not the place'.

A demonstrator and a National Guard solider stare at each other as protests continue near the White House in Washington. Photo / AP
A demonstrator and a National Guard solider stare at each other as protests continue near the White House in Washington. Photo / AP

"Where is the place, Drew?

"I'm disappointed. I'm hurt. Because while the world tells you that you're not worthy, that your life doesn't matter, the last place you want to hear it from are the guys that you go to war with — the guys you consider to be allies and to be your friends.

"Even though we're teammates, I can't let this slide."