Packers quarterback: Protests are about unity in the face of Trump's divisiveness

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Thursday night said NFL protests are about showing unity in the face of divisiveness from President Trump.

At a press conference following his team's victory over the Chicago Bears, Rodgers charged the president with being divisive without mentioning his name.

“It's never been about the national anthem, it's never been about the military," Rodgers said of the protests. 

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"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."

As the national anthem played before Thursday's game, players on both teams linked arms and stood. Groups of fans also linked arms at the team’s invitation.

Trump ripped NFL players who have kneeled in protest during the national anthem, saying they should be fired and arguing the league should have a rule requiring athletes to stand. 

The protests first began in 2016, when then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat and later kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequity in the U.S. 

Rodgers said that he was “proud” of the team and that the conflict between NFL protesters and the president has presented opportunity for conversations between players inside and outside the locker room.

“Sports and politics have always intersected," he said. “If we can help continue a conversation through demonstration of unity like tonight, I think that's a good thing."

Rodgers and other players said they heard yelling during the national anthem, fans yelling at the athletes and at others to “put your hand on your heart.”

“Semantics there, right?” Rodgers said. “What's disrespectful to the anthem? Yelling things during it, or standing at attention with arms locked, facing the flag? That's for you to decide."