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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers teammates want fans at Lambeau Field for Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears to join them in linking arms during the national anthem.

Most of the Packers’ players did that on the sideline before Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati, though three players — Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks and Kevin King — sat on the bench.
Rodgers said it’s not a protest.

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

It sounds as if all the players — even the ones who sat during the anthem on Sunday — will participate after they held a meeting to discuss it.
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“I think it was Marty’s idea,” said Kendricks, who sat he sat during the anthem to bring awareness to people in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. “Aaron spoke first and he kind of laid it out and laid out the fact that he’s on our side and he understands the message being conveyed and trying to get across. And then Marty wrote a statement and in the statement he said we’re going to lock arms and he’s going to challenge the fans to lock arms as well, so it kind of puts them in a position where it’s like, ‘Look you’re either going to unite with us or you’re not.’ I think that’s really cool because it puts them in a position where it’s like now we’re talking to you, so you make a decision, peacefully make a decision.”

Rodgers called the team meeting about it “fantastic.”

“We kind of talked about a lot of things — things I’m not going to talk about because it’s meant for just the locker room — but I think there’s been a great sense of unity and love and support in this locker room, guys coming together,” Rodgers said. “Outside the building, I think the message has been diluted a little bit and it’s been kind of taken away from what we were trying to do: show a united front, guys linking up together. There’s been a lot of hatred on my social media, probably other people’s social media as well. Frankly don’t understand it, a lot of it.”