Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett said last month that more NFL players -- and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in particular -- need to speak out on social issues. Bennett later apologized for singling Newton out but the overarching message wasn't lost on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In an interview on ESPN Wisconsin's "Wilde & Tausch" last week, Rodgers said he read Bennett's remarks.
"The thing I'll say in reference to speaking your mind, [I read] a piece on the Bennetts recently -- Michael and Martellus," Rodgers said, via ESPN.com. "And I turned to a friend and I said, 'Why do we have to say that it's refreshing when someone speaks their mind? Or is honest now?' I think that's kind of a societal issue that we have. We need more guys like that who feel comfortable speaking their mind."
Rodgers, who attended the ESPYs last month and heard LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade call for social change, said it's easier for NBA players to speak frankly on such matters.
"One-hundred percent. And I think it starts with leadership," Rodgers admitted. "I think [NBA commissioner Adam Silver] has done a good job promoting that type of environment. And I think some guys in the NFL are probably worried about repercussions on speaking their mind from the league. ... Those guys are doing it and they feel comfortable doing it. I think if more guys maybe did in our league, it would create a domino effect possibly."
Rodgers' comments came before riots broke out in Milwaukee following a pollce-involved shooting, but the Packers quarterback took the opportunity to weigh in on Monday.
"I don't know the specifics about it, but I do know that our heart goes out to those affected down there," Rodgers said. "This is a connected world. Anytime there's a disconnect like that, it's disappointing to see. Our thoughts and our prayers go with all of those affected, and we hope that the violence doesn't continue down there."
Earlier this month, Bennett explained why he apologized to Newton -- and why he thought more NFL players should speak up.
"I'm just trying to bring unity, basically," he said during an appearance on "SportsCenter." "Sometimes you read things, and it comes out like I'm saying that that's the main person. But I'm just saying that we need to work together to come together with what's going on and figure a way, how can we be better? How can we be better influencers?
"Just want to work well with all the players together," he continued. "It takes a village to do something like this. It's not going to be one player. It's going to be a group of players. I just want to emphasize that to a lot of the players."
It sounds like Rodgers got the message.