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Justin Britt stands by Michael Bennett during national anthem: ‘A very emotional moment’

Michael Bennett on Justin Britt standing by his side during the national anthem Friday night: “I think it was very touching for me, a very emotional moment to have that kind of solidarity ..." (AP)

Seahawks center Justin Britt said he was struck by what teammate Michael Bennett told ESPN earlier in the week about how the conversation with national anthem protests would change if a white player were to become involved.

So Britt, after talking it over with his wife, decided to get involved. As Bennett sat on the bench before the Seahawks’ preseason game against Minnesota Friday night, continuing what he says is a protest of inequality in America, Britt stood next to him. He put his hand on Bennett’s shoulder while cornerback Jeremy Lane stood nearby with his back to the field.

Britt, who signed a three-year extension with the team on Thursday, said he’ll continue to support Bennett in that way and that he’ll consider sitting with him “if things don’t get better and things don’t improve.”

“I want to support him and support what he’s standing for and his beliefs,” Britt said after the game, a 20-13 Seattle win. “I’m not foolish, I’m from Missouri and I get that things are different in that area than it is in other areas. I’m not against what the flag means and veterans. My dad was in the Army, so I’m not showing any disrespect to them. I’m just trying to understand the issue and educate myself more in that regard and show support. I’m going to continue to try to understand what’s going on in the world and why it’s happening. None of it’s right and none of it should be happening. I’m going to continue talking with Mike and exploring and helping myself understand things.

“I wanted to take the first step tonight and that’s what I felt like I did.”

Bennett said he was moved by Britt’s support.

“I think it was very touching for me, a very emotional moment to have that kind of solidarity from someone like Justin Britt, who’s a very known leader in our locker room, who’s from a different part of America from me,” Bennett said. “But to be able to have that kind of solidarity and be able to have somebody who’s behind me and know that somebody that I really trust and to be able to see him put everything on the line to be able to support one of his teammates, I thought that was a very special moment and emotional moment.

“At least for me, it was very touching and I am very thankful to have somebody in my corner like that and I’m appreciative of him.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn’t aware of Britt’s plans to join Bennett until it happened. He said it’s significant for Britt, as a white player, to do what he did. Carroll was proud of him for doing it.

“I think in this time that we’re facing right now, this is more important than ever. There is a lot of growth that needs to take place for us to accomplish the change that needs to be dealt with,” he said. “It is absolutely imperative that guys from both sides of the fence come together and learn and be open and support. These guys are going to show you that. They’re working at it. They understand that there’s issues and concerns that we have difficulty talking about. But, I know that our team is working at it, and they’re determined to try to make things better by the way they all share their own connection and learn how to make statements and understand and be respectful towards one another. I particularly liked that that was the illustration. Again, I don’t know what it looked like, but it warmed my heart to hear that that’s what happened.

“Those guys have some brains. They’re thinking about it. They are thinking about it very seriously. This is not just some frivolous thing where somebody made a mistake and sat down. This is guys working at it and trying to figure out how to help and how to make some sense for other people, too. We’re just a football team, but our guys care, and I’m really proud of them.”