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GREEN BAY – Coach Mike McCarthy said he will lock arms with Green Bay Packers players Thursday night during the national anthem at Lambeau Field.

The Packers plan to demonstrate unity while “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played before kickoff against the Chicago Bears. Players released a statement through the team website Tuesday night inviting fans to join them in portraying unity, locking arms in the stands during the national anthem.

McCarthy said he was “proud” not just of his players’ statement, but also how his team has gone about the past week.

“They put a lot of time and energy and thought into it,” McCarthy said. “They’ve met, they’ve had a chance to discuss, you know, each and every guy that expressed his opinion. I think it’s like anything in life, you’re never going to have everybody feel 100 percent the same way, but it’s just something we’ve talked about a lot as a football team because I always want to make sure the why — why are we doing this? — is explained.”

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Teams across the NFL have handled protests and demonstrations in their own way.

With emotions raw only 48 hours after President Donald Trump’s inflammatory statements in Huntsville, Ala., last week, multiple players said McCarthy allowed them to express their beliefs as they saw fit. Most, but not all, players locked arms while tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, along with cornerback Kevin King, sat through Sunday's national anthem.

Bennett said he liked the idea of the Packers franchise being a symbol of unity.

"This is one of the most diverse workplaces in the world," Bennett said. "We’ve got guys from all different types of backgrounds, and if we can come together and be unified for one goal, which in this metaphor that common goal is a Super Bowl or winning games, the Super Bowl in life is one where everyone can live in harmony, peace and everything could be unified. So we’re a walking testimony that it can be done, that you can work with people who aren’t like you, from different backgrounds, and reach a common goal if everybody wants the same thing."

The Packers are striving for what quarterback Aaron Rodgers called a “united front” in their decorum. Their decision to lock arms while standing — and an invitation for fans to do the same — was an idea the team discussed in a meeting Monday.

“You want them to just have the opportunity to disagree,” McCarthy said. “But, once again, once a decision is made, it’s not OK to be disagreeable. I think this is an example of that. The process that they’ve gone through, I’m proud of them. 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.”

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