Malcolm Jenkins credited New Orleans Saints team-mate Drew Brees "for listening" after the NFL quarterback sent a message to United States president Donald Trump saying he stood by his apology.
Brees, the NFL's all-time leader for passing yardage and touchdown passes, caused outrage earlier this week when he said those who protest against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem are "disrespecting the flag".
A tearful Jenkins, who returned to the Saints this offseason, described Brees' comments as "hurtful" and "insensitive", with the quarterback later issuing two apologies and an admission he had "completely missed the mark".
While his apologies were welcomed by Saints colleagues, Trump - a vocal critic of those, like Colin Kaepernick, who have knelt during the national anthem - suggested Brees was wrong to row back on his initial views.
However, Brees later posted an Instagram note addressed to Trump in which he reiterated "this is not an issue about the American flag", words which were welcomed by Jenkins.
"Drew, as much as your comments hurt me and many other people, I appreciate you for listening because being heard is a big part of it," the safety said on his Instagram story.
Other prominent voices in the Saints' locker room were also pleased to see Brees express regret over his original comments.
Veteran defensive end Cameron Jordan wrote on Twitter: "My teammate dropped a bar... paraphrasing @demario__davis, "apology is a form of true leadership... that's taking ownership." Only through open dialogue & open hearts can we expand our comprehension and only in courage can we create positive change! @drewbrees".
Wide receiver Michael Thomas, Brees' go-to receiver over the past four seasons, retweeted his team-mate's note and wrote: "MY QB".