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Packers locked-arms photo

Some Packers players locked arms in a show of unity during the national anthem on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY — If you’re headed to Thursday night’s Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears game at Lambeau Field, expect to be asked to lock arms with the fan next to you — whether they’re black or white, or wearing green-and-gold or navy blue-and-burnt orange.

The request will be coming from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks and the rest of the Packers players, who want fans to be part of what Rodgers called Tuesday a show of “unity” amid the spirited and oftentimes ugly back-and-forth about NFL players’ protests before and during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games.

“This is about equality,” Rodgers said Tuesday, during his usual gathering with reporters at his locker. “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.

“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. 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.”

Before Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Rodgers and a host of other Packers locked arms before the national anthem began. A handful of other players stood on the sideline for the anthem but were not part of the chain; three players — Bennett, Kendricks and rookie cornerback Kevin King — sat on the bench. None of the players on the Packers’ sideline actually knelt.

Rodgers said he has seen “some positive conversation” about the underlying issues that have spurred the protests, and that “there’s been a great sense of unity and love and support in this locker room, guys coming together” in the wake of President Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL players.

But on social media and elsewhere, Rodgers hasn’t seen the same constructive reaction, 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 (by) guys linking up together,” said Rodgers, who had two Instagram posts related to the subject on Sunday, including one photo which showed him kneeling alongside wide receivers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams during a water break during a training camp practice. “There’s been a lot of hatred on my social media, probably other people’s social media as well. Frankly, (I) don’t understand it, a lot of it.”

Rodgers challenged those who argue that players are disrespecting veterans and members of the military with their protests, saying, “It’s never been about the military or our men and women in uniform. Like I said after the game, we love and support them. Each of us, I’m sure, have done charity events for them. I’ve been to Fort Wainwright in Alaska and done PT (physical training) with those guys at 5 in the morning. We love them. We’re thankful for the opportunity they give us.”

The idea of getting fans involved sprung from what Rodgers called “a fantastic team meeting” in which players discussed their various perspectives on the issues.

“I think it was Marty’s idea,” said Kendricks, who said he sat during the anthem for two reasons — to support Bennett, so he wouldn’t be sitting alone; and to bring awareness to people in his wife’s native Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. “Aaron spoke first (in the meeting) 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 (that we’re) 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.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy emphasized that he believes the protests should lead to more listening from both sides of the debate.

“There’s a lot of things that are being said. I think more importantly, I think it’s a time to listen,” McCarthy said. “I think everybody can do a better job of listening and make sure the messages that are trying to be delivered are heard and vice versa. I think that’s the biggest thing in life.

“Everybody throws around (the phrase) ‘lack of communication,’ and I know personally — regardless if it’s here professionally with my players, or even at home with my children — I think we all can sit back and listen a little more right now.”

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(20) comments

awol2009

randombozo, tRump chose to make this about himself when her referred to a certain football player who wouldn't stand for our national anthem and referred to this man as an S. O. B., also that the team owners should fire them. He states they should all be ordered to stand and not kneel. You can't "order" obedience to an ideal, unless, of course, you are a dictator. That's exactly what tRump thinks he is. He is not a leader, he is a sick, narcissistic, epic failure as a human and *POTUS. Kneeling is symbolic to unfairness in sectors of our society and should be an awakening to awareness, not misconstrued as unpatriotic or unAmerican, as rightwingnuts would want you to believe. Our military serves to protect freedom, not to have racism or other forms of inequality prevail. Most veterans I know well acknowledge and respect this freedom of expression. Our Dictator in Chief offers no comprehensive skills in trying to understand or unify people. He just likes to rile his bigoted, white supporters and keep hate alive with deceptive, ignorant remarks.

johnnybragatti

Like Aaron Rodgers says : UNITY...
and Rodgers can do no wrong.
It is time for America to put "their" Orangetange, in it"s place ,
show the discolored, old,old "man", punk, who"s boss,: the American people.
He really and truly needs to be gotten rid of,
the quicker the better.

random annoying bozo

I thought the whole anthem thing was about the injustice of the country against blacks? but you seem to say it's about Trump? so does that mean liberals tossed the blacks overboard, and found their causes trivial, which they do often, and hijacked the anthem thing solely to be anti Trump? now isn't that special.

stopit1

Please know what you are talking about when discussing respecting the flag! It is a CUSTOM to stand when the National Anthem is played. It is not required. Don't conflate taking a knee of locking arms as disrespecting the flag.
However, the following information is taken from -- Publications.USA.gov (176.Respect for the Flag):
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.
How many of you have seen a flag printed on a politician's yard sign? How about parts of the flag on bathing suits, t-shirts, jackets, etc?
The issue at hand is not about respecting the flag, but bringing a huge injustice to the attention of the public! Way to go Packers!

olderthandirt

This is stupid. Linking arms shows support for Kaepernick and his pig socks, and slanted view of America. These overpaid adolescents, kneeling and spitting on the country that gives them freedom is enough. As a lifelong Packer fan, I am done with the NFL, NBA, and any "sport" that players cannot stand for the anthem and flag. Many gave their lives to end slavery, including white soldiers. During every war we gave our support defending freedom with our blood and never asked for repayment. To say the U.S. is a terrible and racist country is wrong. Obama started all this hatred with his views. It is not the 60's. Those wounds will never heal if haters keep living in the past with imagined racism in ever aspect of their life.

Old Bowhunter

The fans paid to watch a football game not to see a bunch of overpaid jocks spew their political beliefs all over the field. Just play football. I bet half of them don’t even know what they’re protesting. This is all just a continuation and expansion of bad behavior by the angry, America hating, Muslim Colon Krappernick . Pretty pathetic to be unifying with him!

IThink

I'm neither attending the game or watching it. If I were I would be unable to lock arms with the person next to me because I was taught to show respect during our national anthem by putting my right hand over my heart.

awol2009

We should all kneel for the national anthem until our unpatriotic *POTUS is removed from office. He's a draft-dodger, tax evader, illiterate, cheating thug. Fly your stars and stripes upside down because America is under threat from within.

Buggs Raplin

Way to ignore the issue at hand

estrahs

This is totally BS, do what you want but do ask the fans to join in your BS

Mitch Mueller

It amazes me how myopic the view of these commentators so far. Is it not possible to still honor the flag and it's armed forces while trying to enlighten the public on issues which affect millions? I know what you'll say, "do it another way, don't disrespect the flag". This type of protest is EXACTLY what the flag and the Constitution stand for. If you cannot see that, you don't understand the Bill of Rights and our freedoms under it.

By all means, back the draft-dodging POTUS which , by his own life example, exemplifies the very thing which your misplaced anger is focused on.

hrpufnstuf

You snowflakes are just precious.

Slider

They can do whatever they want. I have ended my 45 years love of the NFL.

Buggs Raplin

The NFL rule book states that the anthem is to be played before every game, all players are to be present on the sidelines, and they are to stand at attention and respect the flag. Any player not doing this should be fined by the league. This 'locking arms' thing just appears to be a dig at Trump for his criticism of players taking the knee. Most people are with Trump on this one, and the NFL looks ridiculous.

Cassandra

The "rules" were put in place after payoffs by the military.
The military bought the allegiance of the NFL for millions of dollars and the teams expect Blacks to just entertain people while their families are being murdered.
Of course Chippy would support this. And of course Trump would violate his oath of office by using the power of the Presidency against people who are exercising their free speech rights. Of course.

random annoying bozo

if there is a penalty, and a flag is thrown, to show unity, will players and fans take a knee?

I do have to give kudos to the 'news' establishment, they have taken a story, about one man, that happened over a year ago, and with the help of a lot of disdain for President Trump, turned this whole fiasco into one of the biggest contrived, 'made for 'news'' events of our time.

Cassandra

"...Over a year ago..." Perhaps you aren;t paying attention, but this is happening every day and growing. But why pay attention to facts when they get in the way of your political narrative, right?

Buena Vista

I live in La Crosse and frequently travel outside the state. The state of Wisconsin and especially the Green Bay Packers football team embarrass the H**L out of me. So between Governor Walker and the sickening 'can do no wrong' Packers, along with their biased and silly fans, I envy people who live in Illinois and Minnesota.

Old Bowhunter

In unity for what?? Are are they in unity with Colon K. that America sucks??? That’s what stared this mess. I hope the fans boo them off the field.

Buggs Raplin

Locking arms? What a nothing burger. Are they all going to sing Kumbyah afterwards? For some clarification of this issue, Paul Joseph Watson has a 7 minute video on the Alex Jones web site entitled 'Take a Knee is Bullsh*t" As liberal pundit Joe Scarborough points out, every player who takes a knee, helps Trump.

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