You won’t find Aaron Rodgers kneeling during the national anthem this season, but in a recent interview with ESPN’s Mina Kimes, the Green Bay Packers offensive captain revealed he has no issue with players who do choose to protest.
That includes fellow quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who’s still waiting for a job offer less than two weeks before the start of the 2017 season. Kaepernick became a national figure last season, when he popularised the practice of not standing during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice in America.
Rodgers said it would be “ignorant” to believe that the lack of interest has nothing to do with Kaepernick’s history of activism.
“I think he should be on a roster right now,” Rodgers said. “I think because of his protests, he’s not.”
While Rodgers will continue to stand for “The Star Spangled Banner,” he plans on supporting his teammates who choose to follow Kaepernick’s example. He mentioned that conversations with two of his teammates, wide receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Martellus Bennett, have helped him to better understand the motives behind the protests; Bennett is the brother of the Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, one of the NFL’s most prominent protestors.
“I’m gonna stand because that’s the way I feel about the flag — but I’m also 100 per cent supportive of my teammates or any fellow players who are choosing not to,” he said. “They have a battle for racial equality. That’s what they’re trying to get a conversation started around.”
Kaepernick, Michael Bennett and others have come under fire for their gestures, with several coaches and front office personnel expressing their distaste for what they see as disrespect to the American flag. But while Rodgers has never been shy about his patriotism, he believes the league’s black players have a unique perspective that must be recognised.
“I think the best way I can say this is: I don’t understand what it’s like to be in that situation,” he said. “What it is to be pulled over, or profiled, or any number of issues that have happened, that Colin was referencing — or any of my teammates have talked to me about….But I know it’s a real thing my black teammates have to deal with.”
It will be interesting to see if Rodgers continues to voice his support for national anthem protests — elsewhere in the interview, he stated that “a fear of job security” can stifle the personalities and beliefs of NFL players. Stars like Rodgers often get a longer leash, but the All-Pro signal caller is a famously private person.
The Packers will play their final preseason game on Thursday against the Los Angeles Rams. They will kick off their regular season schedule on September 10, hosting the Seattle Seahawks.
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