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NFL Teams Lock Arms in Act of Unity During National Anthem

At Thursday night’s NFL game at Lambeau Field between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” rose from the crowd while players and staff from both teams linked arms before the singing of the national anthem.

On Tuesday, Aaron Rodgers issued a request for the fans to join the Packers in locking arms during the national anthem in a show of unity.

“This is about equality,” Rodgers said. “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.”

Even so, Rodgers insisted that people must have a dialogue about “these things.”

“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,” Rogers said. “And 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.”

The Packers released a statement Tuesday inviting fans to link arms.

“Those of us joining arms on Thursday will be different in so many ways, but one thing that binds us together is that we are all individuals who want to help make our society, our country and our world a better place,” the statement read.

“We believe that in diversity there can be UNI-versity,” the statement continued. “Intertwined, we represent the many people who helped build this country, and we are joining together to show that we are ready to continue to build.”

The Packers invited everyone to “work together to build a society that is more fair and just” and to join them Thursday by locking arms in a “moment of unification.”

Despite the requests by Rodgers and the Packers, the “vast majority” of fans did not link arms, says ESPN’s Michele Steele.

Steele tweeted that many sang along with the anthem, noting that there was a sign “right behind” the Packers’ bench that read “Shame on the NFL. Vets stand for the flag.”

“It was an invitation to join us,” he said. “The beauty is, it’s a free country, so they can choose to do it or not.”

Rodgers also commented on the message sent by protests during the national anthem, which were reignited by comments made by President Trump insisting owners fire players who do not respect the flag.

“The messaging towards this unfortunately needs to continue to be redirected, I think,” Rodgers said. “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.”