NFL legend Tony Dungy is not onboard with the withering attacks on Saints QB Drew Brees. Dungy may not agree with Brees, but he does not want Americans to be afraid to exercise their free speech.

Dungy was asked for his reaction to Brees’ assertion that he does not agree with Colin Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem. The Saints QB said that he feels that kneeling during the Star-Spangled Banner is not the right time or place to protest.

The instant his words became public, Brees was thoroughly attacked so severely that he soon apologized.

Dungy, though, was reluctant to turn Brees into a pariah.

During an interview on The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday, Dungy stood up for Brees’ freedom of speech.

“I don’t downgrade Drew for that. That’s what he said. He may not totally understand, it may have been not exactly how he wanted to express it, but he can’t be afraid to say that,” Dungy said.

“And we can’t be afraid to say ‘Okay, Drew, I don’t agree with you, but let’s talk about this.’ We can’t just say anytime something happens that we don’t agree with, ‘I’m done with that, and I’m done with this person.’ That doesn’t make sense. We have to be better than that,” the former Indianapolis Colts coach said.

Dungy is no detractor of Colin Kaepernick’s protests, mind you. Indeed, he feels that the riots may force the NFL to get Kaepernick back on the field. He even feels that Kaepernick should be elevated to Muhannad Ali status for his political activism.

“We saw the same thing happen, you guys are old enough to remember Muhammad Ali, and Muhammad Ali, at the beginning of his statements about not going into the service, he was looked at one way, and at the end, it was totally different because people’s opinions changed based on having a little bit more knowledge of the circumstances,” Dungy said on Thursday. “So I think Colin is going to be looked at much differently now going forward than he was three years ago. I do think he’s good enough to play in the league, and I think he should be in the league.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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