GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Green Bay Packers are putting up a united front in response to criticism over player protests during the national anthem.
The team is linking arms during the anthem and has asked fans at Lambeau Field to do likewise.
"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," reads a statement from the players.
These movements among NFL teams grew after President Donald Trump called on the NFL to fire players who take a knee to protest racial inequality.
During a rally, the president said, "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'"
On Twitter, the president has suggested the NFL set a rule that players cannot kneel during the anthem.
It would be an understatement to say this is an emotional issue for Americans. It's a conversation that has played out on social media feeds, places of work, and houses of faith.
Players and politicians have reacted in various ways. Here is a look at some of that reaction.
PACKERS PRESIDENT/CEO MARK MURPHY
"It's unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely."
PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE MCCARTHY (ON LINKING ARMS)
"The approach is one of a positive nature, and that's definitely the preference. Locking arms and honoring the flag, I think it's a very good thing."
"This is about equality. This is about unity and love and growing together as a society and starting a conversation around what might be a little uncomfortable for people, but we've got to come together and talk about these things and grow as a connected group of individuals in our society. And we're going to continue to show love and unity, and this week we're going to ask the fans to join in as well, and come together and show people that we can be connected and we can grow together."
"You can't tell me to just talk about one thing, because I am not just one thing. No one is. I'm a dad, so I like to talk about dad stuff. I have a wife, so I like to talk about things as a husband. There are Christians on the team, so I like to talk about things as a Christian. We are dynamic individuals.”
"If you let someone tell you what you are worth, you will always end up on the clearance rack. If you look at the message, it has never been about veterans or the military on anything like that. I think people are trying to avoid the conversation by changing the conversation.”
The idea of @realDonaldTrump thinking that suggesting firing me from football, confirms that he thinks that it's all I can do as a Black man— Martellus Bennett (@MartysaurusRex) September 23, 2017
"This country’s flag does not give meaning to its people. The people of this country give meaning to that flag. Our soldiers have fought and continue to fight so that we can have freedoms in this country."
Let's keep the main thing the main thing https://t.co/hQGdgmD2hv— Ty Montgomery (@TyMontgomery2) September 24, 2017
KEVIN KING (ON SITTING DURING THE ANTHEM)
"I'm not sure if it's something I plan on doing every game because my grandpa is a veteran and I have no disrespect for that, but in terms of what's going on recently. But I thought today [Sunday, Sept. 24] was a great opportunity to show my support and what I thought was right."
"I think guys did what they felt was right. You can see the unity around the league and that's the most important thing because that's what you want the youth to see."
WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R)
“Others can explain what they're doing and why they're doing it, I just know in my household, my kids were always taught as I was taught you stand and put your hand over your heart."
U.S. SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-Wisconsin)
"I support the @packers call for unity in support of freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding, and justice for all."
U.S. REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-Wisconsin)
“I love the Packers, but many men and women—better than I or any sports star—have died to defend the American flag and Constitution. Their sacrifices give us the privilege of enjoying football and resolving our differences peacefully here at home. If that’s not something to stand for then I don't know what is.”
Their sacrifices give us the privilege of enjoying football and resolving our differences peacefully here at home. If that’s not something to stand for then I don't know what is.— Rep. Mike Gallagher (@RepGallagher) September 27, 2017
U.S. REP. GLENN GROTHMAN (R-Wisconsin)
(Rep. Grothman was asked about the protest on WPR's The Joy Cardin Show. Click here to listen to the full interview.)
"These people think America is the land of opportunity. They come here even if they don't speak English. I don't see this idea where America is a horrible place to be a person of color from, because so many people of color from around the world are trying to get in here."