Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says that he likes when NFL players speak their minds about important social issues, but also says he believes the NFL's culture discourages its players from speaking up more because they fear repercussions from the league.
Rodgers made an appearance on ESPN Radio's “Wilde and Tausch" last week and cited an ESPN article in which Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said that players needed to step up and make their voices heard.
Bennett mentioned Rodgers in an interview last month saying, "You don't see a lot of great players talking about things socially, whether it's Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers. All of these guys, they're white. They don't have to deal with the things that we deal with as black players, so it's not as many."
Rodgers says the league needs more players like Bennett who aren't afraid to speak their minds.
"It's got to be natural, it's got to be authentic, and I think those guys did a really good job. It was a great message," Rodgers said. "The thing I'll say in reference to speaking your mind, [I read] a piece on the Bennetts recently—Michael and Martellus. And I turned to a friend and I said, 'Why do we have to say that it's refreshing when someone speaks their mind, or is honest now?' I think that's kind of a societal issue that we have."
Rodgers was also asked if NBA players had more latitude from their league in speaking on social issues.
"One-hundred percent. And I think it starts with leadership," Rodgers said. "I think [NBA commissioner Adam Silver] has done a good job promoting that type of environment. And I think some guys in the NFL are probably worried about repercussions on speaking their mind from the league."
– Scooby Axson