Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and tight end Lance Kendricks said Tuesday that the team is planning "a show of unity" before Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears and "will ask fans at Lambeau Field to join in," according to Jason Wilde of the Wall Street Journal.
The Packers would release a statement detailing the plan:
"This Thursday during the national anthem at Lambeau Field, Packers players, coaches and staff will join together with arms intertwined—connected like the threads on your favorite jersey. When we take this action, what you will see will be so much more than just a bunch of football players locking arms. The image you will see on September 28th will be one of unity. It will represent a coming together of players who want the same things that all of us do—freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding, and justice for those who have been unjustly treated, discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly. You will see the sons of police officers, kids who grew up in military families, people who have themselves experienced injustice and discrimination firsthand, and an array of others all linking together in a display of unity."
Those demonstrations were in response to President Donald Trump calling any players who knelt during the anthem a "son of a bitch" before calling for them to be fired.
Kneeling during the anthem in the NFL began with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remained seated before preseason games in Aug. 2016 and transitioned to kneeling during the season. Kaepernick said he was protesting police brutality and racial inequality, though his detractors have argued that his actions are disrespectful to the military.
But those players who joined Kaepernick by kneeling, raising a fist or performing a gesture during the anthem—both last season and this one—have maintained that such viewpoints are a miscategorization of their intentions.
"We spoke at length about many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system," Eric Reid, Kaepernick's former teammate who knelt with him during the anthem last season, wrote in an article for the New York Times. "We also discussed how we could use our platform, provided to us by being professional athletes in the NFL, to speak for those who are voiceless.
He added: "It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it's exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest."