New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins says team-mate Drew Brees is “part of the problem” for his “hurtful” opposition to NFL kneeling protests.
Saints quarterback Brees said kneeling protests would be “disrespecting the flag” of the United States.
Former NFL star Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the US national anthem in 2016 to highlight racial injustice.
“Drew, unfortunately you’re somebody that doesn’t understand their privilege,” said Jenkins.
“You don’t understand the potential you have to actually 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… I still protested – not against the national anthem – but against what was happening in America and what the fabric of this country stands for.”
It comes in the wake of global protests held following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while being restrained by a white police officer in Minneapolis on 25 May.
Many athletes have also supported Kaepernick, who was frozen out of the league after his protest and has been unemployed since being released in 2017.
However, in an interview with Yahoo, Brees said he will not be happy if NFL players take a knee in protest during the 2020 season.
“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” said the 41-year-old, who holds several NFL records and is one of the biggest names in the sport.
“Is everything right with our country right now? No, it is not. We still have a long way to go.
“But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity.”
In an emotional video, Jenkins said: “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, that you consider to be allies and to be your friends.
“Even though we’re team-mates, I can’t let this slide.
“Drew Brees, if you don’t understand how hurtful, how insensitive your comments are you are part of the problem,” said 32-year-old Jenkins.
“The whole country is on fire and the first thing that you do is to criticise one’s peaceful protest. That was years ago when we were trying to signal a sign for help, to signal for our allies, our white brothers and sisters, the people we consider to be friends to get involved. It was ignored.”