Packers, Bears link arms but fans don't join in show of unity

Fans standing for national anthem
Packers and Bears fans stand for the national anthem at Lambeau Field on Sept. 28, 2017 (Photo: Steve Lavin)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The stadium district was abuzz Thursday night ahead of a nationally televised game between the Green Bay Packers and their oldest rival, the Chicago Bears. But all eyes were not just on the game.

Packers and Bears players, coaches and other staffers locked arms on the sidelines during the national anthem Thursday night.

Many fans at Lambeau Field cheered and chanted "USA! USA!" while a large American flag was unfurled at midfield before the anthem.

Over the past week we've seen professional football players take a knee or teams staying in the tunnels or locker room during the "Star-Spangled Banner."

In response, the Packers players released a statement asking fans to link arms during the national anthem in a show of unity. Many people in the crowd held up small flags during and after the anthem, but reports from Action 2 Sports reporters and fans in the stadium say few fans linked arms.

"I didn't. I was actually watching for it. I didn't see a lot of linking arms. I heard some inappropriate stuff, people being a little bit rude more than I thought they should have, but I didn't see a lot of linked arms though, no," Todd Tahlier, a Packers fan, said.

In the concourse, some people removed their hats as the anthem started to play, some stopped walking, some even saluted towards the TV's displaying what was happening on the field, while crowds continued to move around them to get to their seat before kickoff. Some fans outside the stadium also stopped for the anthem.

"We were actually walking in when they were actually playing. We stopped in the middle of the road and took our hats on and listened to it until the fireworks headed off and headed to the stands," Carlos Almanza, a Bears fan, said.

At a bar near Lambeau Field we also saw people pausing, taking off their hats, and standing during the performing of the "Star-Spangled Banner."

What we heard from many people we talked with Thursday night, one of the great things about this country is that people have the freedom to express themselves any way they want.