Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears Showcase Unity Through Linked Arms

Following the president's comments about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears stood across the field from each other Thursday night with linked arms before competing in the nationally televised game.

Since last week, the NFL has been at the center of an emotional debate over player protests during the national anthem with Donald Trump's criticisms mainly about African-American players, who kneel as a means to protest for racial inequality.

Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers has been vocal about his support for his fellow teammates who kneel for the national anthem, and made sure Thursday night was more about unity than protest.

Disclosing to reporters prior to the game, Rodgers said he and his teammates talked about what they can do to show their support and the team came up linking arms during the national anthem. The support also extended to the Bears as well, who replicated the gesture of unity.

The 33-year-old Super Bowl champion also told reporters that the gesture was not a protest, but rather "a unified demonstration of love and solidarity; a call to connect."

Rodgers, standing defiant between Randall Cobb and Richard Rodgers, linked arms tightly as the anthem was sung and several in the crowds chanted, U-S-A.

Earlier this week, Rodgers told ESPN how important it was to show support to not just his fellow teammates, but those in social facing racial inequality.

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"This is about equality," he said. "This is about unity and love and growing together as a society and starting a conversation around something that may be a little bit uncomfortable for people.

"But we've got to come together and talk about these things and grow as a community, 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."