Aaron Rodgers on anthem display: 'Sports and politics have always intersected'
Packers QB says team wanted to 'show unity in the face of some divisiveness from the top in this country'
Ahead of Thursday night's game against the Bears, the Packers asked their fans to join them in linking arms during the national anthem as a show of unity. The request came days after all 32 teams staged various forms of protest in the wake of controversial public remarks by President Trump.
Following the Packers' 35-14 win, Rodgers was asked about the decision to include the fans in the pregame demonstration.
"It was an invitation to join us," Rodgers said. "Beauty is, it's a free country so they can choose to do it or not. The messaging towards this unfortunately needs to continue to be redirected, I think. It's never been about the national anthem. It's never been about the military. We're all patriotic in the locker room. We love our troops. This is about something bigger than that -- an invitation to show unity in the face of some divisiveness from the top in this country and I'm proud of our guys.
"This has been a galvanizing situation for us. In the locker room there's been -- and outside the locker room if you saw Jordy's comments -- there's been some great conversations that have been started," the quarterback continued. "As much as some people want us to just shut up and play football and keep the politics to politics, sports and politics have always intersected.
"And If we can help continue a conversation through demonstration of unity like tonight I think that's a good thing."
It's a theme Rodgers has been stressing. On Tuesday, he tried to convince fans why the demonstration was not only important but necessary.
"This is about equality," Rodgers explained. "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."
Meanwhile, Trump said Thursday that the reason these demonstrations continue is because NFL owners are afraid of their players. The president's remarks came six days after he told a rally in Alabama, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!"
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