A day after his former teammate sat through a pregame rendition of the national anthem, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett did the same.
Bennett did so on Sunday. On Saturday, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, a one-time teammate of Bennett’s, sat through “The Star-Spangled Banner” after supporting Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality toward African-Americans. Kaepernick began that protest in 2016, when Lynch was not playing.
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) August 14, 2017
“First of all, I want people to understand that I love the military,” Bennett said following his team’s 48-17 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. “My father’s in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American. But I don’t love segregation. I don’t love riots or oppression.
“I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve. And I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message of that.”
Bennett added that he was inspired to take action by the violence that took place in Charlottesville, North Carolina, this weekend, when a man drove his car into a crowd of people who were protesting racism. He killed a protestor and injured several others.
“I’m being vulnerable right now,” Bennett said. “There’s a whole bunch of people sitting at home judging me, but they will never get to this point where they can be vulnerable. Let people attack me because they don’t believe what I believe in, but at the end of the day, I’m being vulnerable to show every person that no matter [what] you believe in, keep fighting for it. Keep fighting for equality. Keep fighting for oppressed people. And keep trying to change society.”
Bennett aligned himself with Kaepernick this offseason, meeting with him and sporting a shirt that supported the unsigned quarterback’s “Know Your Rights” campaign.
A month ago, Michael Bennett commented on teams’ hesitance to sign Kaepernick despite their obvious willingness to take on players who are, instead of protesting, convicted criminals.
“It’s going to take the organization,” Bennett said. “I think the players have spoken up enough. I think the media has spoken up. It just takes the ownership for someone to say we want this guy in our locker room. I think a lot of teams, like we said before, were really affected by what he did and what he did this year. It wasn’t criminal.
“There’s been guys who have criminal records, guys who have been accused of murder, guys who have been accused of rape and domestic violence who are still in the NFL. It’s crazy to see this guy not have an opportunity in the NFL. It’s just weird. I mean, some quarterbacks, as we all know, shouldn’t be playing, but they are, and this guy is sitting on the side. We all know why. It’s just hard to fathom that he’s not having a job this year.”