After being criticized for appearing in a video linked to an anti-LGBTQ religious group, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees sought to “set the record straight.”
“I do not support any groups that discriminate or that have their own agendas that are trying to promote inequality,” Brees said in a video posted to Twitter Thursday that had amassed over a million views as of Friday morning.
The criticism stemmed from a video Brees appeared in for “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” an initiative of Focus on the Family, an anti-LGBTQ evangelical group with a history of opposing gay and transgender rights.
Focus on the Family was founded in 1977 and, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights group, it is “one of the most well funded anti-LGBTQ organizations in America.” The group and its leaders have long opposed same-sex marriage, supported so-called conversion therapy, called the children of same-sex parents “human guinea pigs” and asserted that “transgenderism violates God’s design.”
In a separate video shared on Twitter by a local New Orleans sports reporter, Brees said he was “not aware” of Focus on the Family's anti-gay lobbying efforts: He insisted the video he appeared in was solely focused on “Bring Your Bible to School Day” and “certainly not promoting any group associated with that type of behavior.”
In the video he uploaded on Thursday, Brees appeared surprised by the “rumors” spread about him that “led people to believe that somehow I was aligned with an organization that was anti-LGBTQ.”
“I’m not sure why the negativity spread or why people tried to rope me in to certain negativity,” he said, noting that he lives his life by “two very simple Christian fundamentals.”
“That is love the lord with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself,” he explained, adding that he loves, respects and accepts “all people, no matter your race, your color, your religious preference, your sexual orientation, your political beliefs — it doesn’t matter.”
Some called the criticism of Brees another example of “outrage culture,” while others said they were disappointed in the NFL star.
“He cops to being wholly ignorant about Focus on the Family’s lobbying efforts & then blames the media for pointing it out,” Twitter user @byjoelanderson wrote. “How often does Drew Brees sign up to the face of national ad campaigns for organizations he knows nothing about? Why should anyone trust him as a pitchman?”