Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers this week addressed the issue of NFL players’ protests during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games.
Rodgers told NFL Media’s Michael Silver that people can have opinions about whether such protests are appropriate, but they should also remember that players are, in fact, protesting police brutality and racial injustice.
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There were three main anthem-related points in Rodgers’ comments to Silver:
On how the protests have affected player unity:
“Obviously, the league is worried about its ratings and everything, but it seems that with the distribution from the TV (networks) that everybody’s doing pretty well. But it is interesting to see how moments like that can be the impetus for guys coming together and getting some perspective.”
A group of Packers players in June spoke negatively about the NFL’s new policy requiring players to stand for the anthem if they take the field. Players would have the option to remain in the locker room. The policy has been put on hold as team owners and the players association continue discussions.
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On people who consider NFL players who protest anti-military:
“I don’t know how many times we can say, as a player and as a group, how much we love and support and appreciate the troops, and the opportunities this country allows us. But this is about equality and something bigger than ourselves, and bringing people together, and love and connectedness and equality and social justice, and putting a light on people who deserve to have the attention for their causes and their difficult situations that they’re in. You know, people have their opinion — you shouldn’t do it during the anthem, you shouldn’t do it during this — that’s fine. But let’s not take away from what the real issue is.”
(Rodgers made a video for The Players’ Tribune in which he expressed support for the Wounded Warriors Project.)
On the decision not to respond to statements by President Donald Trump and others critics:
“I think that the more that we give credence to stuff like that, the more it’s gonna live on. I think if we can learn to ignore or not respond to stuff like that — if we can — it takes away the power of statements like that.”
Rodgers, who is a part-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, said that Lakers star LeBron James’ not responding to Trump’s disparaging tweet Friday was “absolutely beautiful.”
“At a time where he’s putting on display his school (in Akron, Ohio), which is changing lives, there’s no need. Because you’re just giving attention to that (tweet); that’s what they want. So just don’t respond,” Rodgers told Silver.