Marshawn Lynch wasn’t the only NFL player to take a seat during the national anthem over the weekend. Michael Bennett, a former teammate of Lynch in Seattle, decided to do the same when the Seahawks took on the San Diego Chargers in a preseason game on Sunday. But unlike Lynch, Bennett was forthcoming with his reasons, saying he felt the need to use his platform to “speak out on injustice” following what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“First of all I want to make sure people understand I love the military — my father was in the military,” Bennett said. “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, I don’t love oppression. I don’t love gender slander. 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 and keep finding out how unselfish we can be in society, how we can continuously love one another and understand that people are different.”
.@Seahawks Michael Bennett during anthem pic.twitter.com/RVbpZhyaAZ
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) August 14, 2017
“Just because people are different doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t like them”” Bennett continued. “Just because they don’t eat what you eat, just because they don’t pray to the same God you pray to doesn’t mean you should hate them. Whether it is Muslim, whether it is Buddhist, whether it is Christianity, I just want people to understand that no matter what, we need to stay together. It’s more about being a human being at this point.”
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Bennett has been a vocal supporter of Colin Kaepernick in the past. Not only did he want the Seahawks to sign him this offseason to back-up Russell Wilson, Bennett said last season that he supported everything Kaepernick was doing and that he “has the right to believe in whatever he wants to believe in.” After seeing how the public has responded to Kaepernick’s protest, however, Bennett knows he will likely face similar criticism this season.
“Of course I’m going to face backlash,” Bennett said. “This is bigger than me. This is bigger than football. This is bigger than anything that we have any different. This is about people. This is about bringing opportunities to people, giving people equality. This is bigger than a sport.”
Bennett plans to sit for the national anthem for the entire season, according to NFL.com. A member of the Seahawks’ front office told ESPN‘s Jim Trotter that he is okay with Bennett’s protest as long as he is “preaching love and not hate.”