Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett remained seated for the national anthem Sunday, following in the footsteps of ex-teammate Marshawn Lynch and former rival Colin Kaepernick, before his team’s preseason opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Bennett said he wanted to take others out of their “comfort zone” after three people were killed and at least 35 were injured amid clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He plans to continue the action through the entire season.
“Seeing everything in Virginia and stuff that is going on, I just wanted to be able to use my platform to continuously speak out on injustice,” Bennett said after the game.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he was not made aware of Bennett’s plans before the game.
“I haven’t really had a chance to think about it,” Carroll said. “I just heard about it walking through the door.”
Bennett has been an outspoken advocate of Kaepernick after the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who remains unsigned, chose not to stand for the national anthem last season in a protest against police brutality and racial inequality. The two-time Pro Bowl pass rusher said in a June radio interview “of course (Kaepernick is) being blackballed” for his stance.
Bennett said Sunday he had not spoken with Lynch, his teammate from 2013-15, after the Oakland Raiders running back sat throughout the national anthem before Saturday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“I don’t really want to try to get anyone else to follow me,” Bennett said. “I just want to do my own thing. Don’t want to be a distraction to my teammates, don’t want to be a distraction to the organization or Pete or anyone else on my team, but I’m just doing what I do when I feel it’s right.
“I’ve dedicated my life to doing this. … This is my purpose. This is what I believe in: Changing society, going into communities, doing organic work and continuing to push the message that things aren’t fair.”
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