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O’Neil and Salk on Michael Bennett’s national anthem protest: Pay attention to his message, not just his method

Michael Bennett chose to sit out the National Anthem Sunday, drawing both praise and criticism (AP).
LISTEN: Danny O'Neil and Mike Salk on Michael Bennett sitting for the national anthem

The Seahawks’ preseason opener saw them steamroll the Chargers 48-17 for the most points scored in any Seattle preseason game since 1979. The bulk of the national conversation after the game, though, focused on something that happened hours before Alex Collins rushed for Seattle’s fifth touchdown: the decision by Michael Bennett to sit during the national anthem.

710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil joined “Brock and Salk” Monday morning to share his thoughts on Bennett’s decision and the mixed reaction it has received from fans. O’Neil and co-host Mike Salk both reached the same conclusion about the reaction: Whether or not you would do the same thing as Bennett, it is important to consider his message and not just his method.

“It was about coming together and being vulnerable and everyone being willing to be a little bit uncomfortable to try and make a better society,” O’Neil said.

“This occurred to me yesterday: Would it be my choice to sit during the anthem? No. But in light of some of the images and some of the things that have happened over the weekend, the idea of a peaceful protest to make a point about the treatment of people and what seems to be, in my opinion, a rising tide of hate, I support what Michael’s doing … I support the message that he’s making.”

Bennett spoke about a number of social injustices after the game with reporters, but he said the events on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. were part of his decision to sit during the anthem. The son of a military member, Bennett explained that the method was not intended to be disrespectful toward the armed services; rather, he wanted to use his platform to speak out.

“I just want people to understand that, no matter what, we’re in this thing together,” Bennett said. “It’s more about being a human being at this point.”

Like O’Neil, Salk said that while he would not choose to sit for the anthem, he can understand why Bennett would choose to do so.

“Michael Bennett has been talking about this stuff for a while,” Salk said. “Do people go out and cover every one of the press conferences where he’s doing something special in the community and allow him to speak about this? No. And if he speaks about it every time he’s asked about football, that’s annoying too and disrespectful to everybody who wants to hear about the football.

“I like it, I can’t help it. I think it’s the best way for him to do what he believes he needs to do.”

Listen to the entire conversation above.