Prior to Thursday night’s Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers game, players, coaches and staff will link arms in a sign of unity and a plea for equality and are asking fans at Lambeau Field to join in.
Here is what the Packers are asking:
The NFL family is one of the most diverse communities in the world. Just look around! The eclectic group of players that you root for, the coaches you admire, the people you sit next to in the stands, those high-fiving on military bases, fans at the sports bar or during tailgate parties — we all come from different walks of life and have unique backgrounds and stories.
The game of football brings people together. As NFL players, we are a living testimony that individuals from different backgrounds and with different life experiences can work together toward a common goal.
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.
Those of us joining arms on Thursday will be different in so many ways, but one thing that binds us together is that we are all individuals who want to help make our society, our country and our world a better place. We believe that in diversity there can be UNI-versity. Intertwined, we represent the many people who helped build this country, and we are joining together to show that we are ready to continue to build.
Let’s work together to build a society that is more fair and just.
Join us this Thursday by locking arms with whoever you’re with, stranger or loved one, wherever you are — intertwined and included — in this moment of unification.
“Freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding, and justice for those who have been unjustly treated, discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly.”
I assume this includes LGBT people, who have faced a lot of discrimination and unjust treatment in the U.S. And women, who have been second-class citizens for much of America’s existence. And the disabled. And Latinos. And Asian Americans. And immigrants.
And, of course, African Americans. It was a black player, Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem last year to protest racism and police brutality. About the only group the Packers’ statement doesn’t include by inference is straight white men.
The idea came from Packers players, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and while the concept is laudable, the execution is so broad as to render it meaningless.
Assuming many fans do link arms, there will certainly be racists, sexists and homophobes among them, making a mockery of the idea. It would be like asking people for a moment of silence to promote world peace, an empty gesture.
This call for unity appears to be a reaction to negative feelings toward NFL players kneeling or sitting last weekend during the national anthem. Three Packers took a knee, three sat on the bench and the rest locked arms.
I wish the players had been more specific in what they meant by equality and unjust treatment, but being bland was likely necessary to get the buy-in of 53 players, their coaches and management.