Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took to Instagram on Wednesday, encouraging his fans and others to “listen with an open heart” and be more educated, seemingly in light of New Orleans Saints star gunslinger Drew Brees' comments on the same day.
Rodgers also said the time is now to “turn thought into action.”
Brees participated in a social media blackout on Tuesday to show solidarity with Americans speaking out against racism.
But on Wednesday, when asked whether he would support players kneeling during the National Anthem, Brees said, “I will never disagree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.”
Rodgers clearly addresses Brees' comments, saying “It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag. Not then. Not now.”
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the subject of immense scrutiny when he began kneeling during the anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice during the 2016 NFL season.
Some who disagreed with Kaepernick's actions felt it was a disrespect to members of the armed services. Yet Kapernick repeatedly stated his respect for those in uniform. He was orchestrating the protest with the hopes of raising awareness for the experiences of African Americans, something Brees did not seem to grasp in his own answer.
Though the motive seemed fairly intuitive then, it is especially salient now.
The death of George Floyd in police custody last Monday in Minneapolis has sparked outrage across the country, resulting in a number of public protests and demonstrations, including professional athletes' participation.
Additionally, Kaepernick's form of peaceful protest has frequently been cited as an example for those who have been outspoken about the looting and destruction in the last week.
Rodgers encourages his peers—like Drew Brees—to consider the true meaning behind protests such as Kaepernick's as the country grapples with issues of racial injustice.