Seahawks’ Michael Bennett sits during national anthem, plans to continue going forward
CARSON, Calif. – Michael Bennett took a stand by staying seated on the Seahawks’ bench during the national anthem before Sunday’s preseason game.
Bennett said afterward that he plans to take a seat during the anthem going forward this season.
“First of all, I want to make sure people understand I love the military,” Bennett said. “My father was 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. 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 of that.”
Bennett said he had been considering the gesture after the events of the past few months, and he specifically cited the violence in Virginia this weekend and the demonstration that took place in Seattle on Sunday. He did not inform his teammates or coaches of his plans. Coach Pete Carroll didn’t learn Bennett had stayed seated during the anthem until after he addressed the team following the game.
“I really haven’t even had a chance to think about it,” Carroll said.
Cornerback Jeremy Lane sat for the national anthem in Seattle’s preseason finale last year. The rest of the team locked arms during the anthem as a gesture of solidarity beginning with the regular-season opener.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick initially sat down during the national anthem while playing for the San Francisco 49ers, a protest that was not noticed until the second time he did it during a preseason game. Kaepernick later took a knee instead of sitting down. An unrestricted free agent after opting out of his contract, Kaepernick remains unsigned.
Why did Bennett decide to stay seated? “I just want to be able to use my platform to continue to speak on injustices.”
He said he hoped that his gesture would push people toward going out into their community and talking to those who are different whether it be race, religion or gender.
“I just want people to understand that no matter what, we’re in this thing together,” he said. “It’s more about being a human being at this point.”
He never used the word “protest” in explaining his motivations and repeatedly expressed a desire to be part of the change.
“No matter where I go, I’m still a black man,” he said. “And I can’t get away from that. I can’t get away from the past transgressions of America, what’s happened. But what I want to do is be a part of the change. The change of the kids. The change of society and continuously push that.”