After the most politically charged weekend in NFL history, all eyes fall on Lambeau Field for Thursday Night Football. Some fans may have already tuned out, but the Packers and Bears will continue to put on a display of unity before Thursday’s kickoff. The Packers released a statement earlier this week encouraging all fans at Lambeau Field to lock arms, forming one giant chain of unity around the stadium.
Here’s an excerpt from the statement, released on Tuesday:
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.
Before their Week 3 game against the Bengals, three Packers players knelt while the majority of the rest of the team stood and linked arms for the anthem. The three players to kneel were rookie corner Kevin King, and tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. Packers President Mark Murphy also issued a statement condemning President Trump’s comments.
In the days that followed, the Packers have received backlash from fans. Aaron Popkey, Packers director of public affairs, told media earlier this week that he’s received a steady stream of feedback “on both sides of the matter.”
The Bears linked arms during the anthem last week, but it was their opponents that caused the controversy. The Steelers elected to stay in the tunnel for the anthem, but the emergence of Alejandro Villanueva slightly in front of his team caused media chaos in the days that followed.
This page will update after the national anthem to reflect actions from both teams.
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