Rodgers on players kneeling: ‘It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag’

In recent days, a number of high profile players in the NFL have given their support to the African-American community in the wake of the death of a black man, George Floyd, while being arrested by Minneapolis police. Some were vocal, while others, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, simply put a black background on their social media pages for #BlackOutTuesday. Rodgers has now gone a step further.

Hours after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees stirred up a hornets nest by saying he would never be OK with players kneeling during the national anthem because it is disrespectful to the flag and the military, Rodgers delivered a pointed response without actually naming Brees.

“A few years ago we were criticized for locking arms in solidarity before the game,” Rodgers said in an Instagram post. “It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee during the anthem in 2016 in an effort to raise awareness about racism and police brutality facing African-Americans and people of color in America. He has not played in the league since.

This week, though, in the wake of Floyd’s death and the resulting peaceful protests and violent riots across the country, a number of high-profile members of the NFL community, including Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, have said they owed a lot to Kaepernick for essentially sacrificing himself for a cause he believed in.