GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers teammates are asking fans at Lambeau Field for Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears to join them in linking arms during the national anthem.
Most of the Packers with their arms linked but Lance Kendricks, Martellus Bennett and Kevin King were seated.
In a statement released by the players Tuesday night, the team said that players, coaches and staff will join together with arms intertwined to represent a coming together of people who want freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding and justice for those who have been unjustly treated, discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly.
The statement, which noted that the NFL family is one of the most diverse communities in the world, and that the game of football brings people together, said that intertwining arms represents the many people who not only helped to build the country but who will continue to build a country that is more fair and just.
Rodgers said it’s not a protest.
“This is about equality,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “This is about unity and love and growing together as a society and starting a conversation around something that may be a little bit uncomfortable for people. But we’ve got to come together and talk about these things and grow as a community, as a connected group of individuals in our society, and we’re going to continue to show love and unity, and this week we’re going to ask the fans to join in as well and come together and show people that we can be connected and we can grow together.”
It sounds as if all the players — even the ones who sat during the anthem on Sunday — will participate after they held a meeting to discuss it.
“I think it was Marty’s idea,” said Kendricks, who said he sat during the anthem to bring awareness to people in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. “Aaron spoke first and he kind of laid it out and laid out the fact that he’s on our side and he understands the message being conveyed and trying to get across. And then Marty wrote a statement and in the statement he said we’re going to lock arms and he’s going to challenge the fans to lock arms as well, so it kind of puts them in a position where it’s like, ‘Look you’re either going to unite with us or you’re not.’ I think that’s really cool because it puts them in a position where it’s like now we’re talking to you, so you make a decision, peacefully make a decision.”
Rodgers called the team meeting about it “fantastic.”
“We kind of talked about a lot of things — things I’m not going to talk about because it’s meant for just the locker room — but I think there’s been a great sense of unity and love and support in this locker room, guys coming together,” Rodgers said. “Outside the building, I think the message has been diluted a little bit and it’s been kind of taken away from what we were trying to do: show a united front, guys linking up together. There’s been a lot of hatred on my social media, probably other people’s social media as well. Frankly don’t understand it, a lot of it.”