As one of the biggest stars in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers’ opinion carries a ton of weight. The longtime quarterback for the Green Bay Packers has never been shy about speaking up about controversial issues. So it should come as no surprise that Rodgers delivered a powerful message in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting that has once again brought up the issue of police brutality against the Black community.
Aaron Rodgers has been outspoken about social justice issues
Though his personality has rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way, Aaron Rodgers deserves credit for sticking up for his beliefs. The 36-year-old quarterback has seen and experienced a lot since entering the NFL in 2005. So when he speaks, people listen.
Following George Floyd’s death, many athletes expressed their opinions on key issues such as police brutality, racial inequality, and the criminal justice system. Naturally, that also led to more intense discussions about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem—a peaceful form of protest that Colin Kaepernick started back in 2016.
Earlier this summer, Rodgers spoke with The Ringer’s Kyle Brandt about a June 3 Instagram post he made that pushed for social change.
“My opinion is that social justice and social inequality is an issue,” Rodgers said. “I stand with my teammates in the belief that real change needs to happen.”
Rodgers further added, “I just think the best way to grow is to listen, but listening requires being quiet. For me, it’s about listening to my African-American teammates.”
Rodgers sends a powerful message about the Jacob Blake shooting
Less than three months after Floyd’s death, another controversial law enforcement incident occurred. On Aug. 23, Jacob Blake got shot seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis. The 29-year-old had three of his children inside his SUV at the time of the shooting. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the shooting rendered Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
The Blake shooting resulted in local protests and has drawn national attention. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, the incident adds another layer to the police brutality discussion.
For the Packers, the Blake shooting obviously hit close to home. The team’s leadership council met on Monday to discuss the shooting that occurred the night before. Ultimately, Aaron Rodgers exposed the obvious problem with the entire situation in a video conference.
“There’s a systemic problem, and until the problem is fixed, this is going to be an all-too-common sighting in this country,” Rodgers said.
While he declined to comment directly on the video of the Blake shooting until more facts come out, Rodgers showed no hesitation in raising an issue with the criminal justice system.
“Again, I think that goes to a systematic problem that needs to be addressed at some point,” he said. “There’s antiquated laws that are prejudicial against people of color in this state. I think the governor and the folks at the Capitol need to take a hard look at some of those systems that are in place.”
The Packers star isn’t the only athlete speaking up
Aaron Rodgers certainly did not hold back in speaking about the Jacob Blake shooting. Other athletes have also talked about the latest example of police brutality that has captivated the nation’s attention.
Following the LA Lakers’ victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, LeBron James spoke directly about the shooting and its impact on the Black community.
“I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as Black people in America,” James said. “Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified.”
The 35-year-old father of three pointed out that the police could have grabbed or tackled Blake.
“Why does always have to get to a point where we see the guns firing?” James asked.
Ultimately, the Jacob Blake shooting shows that our country still has a long way to go in fixing a systemic problem that results in far too many violent encounters with law enforcement. Perhaps star athletes like Aaron Rodgers and LeBron James can effect change using their platforms.
However, it will take more than the efforts of a few recognizable figures to make a real difference.