Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, others ask NFL to support social activism
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett is one of four NFL players that have sent a letter to the NFL requesting support from the league, general managers and owners for community outreach and social justice efforts on the part of its players. The players have also requested that the NFL recognize November as activism awareness month.
“We always have different months (when) we recognize different people or different issues in America, and we felt like that was a big issue,” Bennett told reporters Wednesday when explaining the idea. “We wanted to find a way to recognize it and be able to have that conversation (where) people can find information about things they want to get involved with.”
The 10-page memo, obtained by Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson was reportedly sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in August by Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and wide receiver Torrey Smith, and former NFL wide receiver Anquan Bolden. The players requested the following of the league:
“To be clear, we are asking for your support. We appreciate your acknowledgment on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act. We need support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level.”
Bennett has been an advocate for social justice issues and routinely speaks out about police brutality, racism, and inequality. This season, Bennett has chosen to sit for the national anthem, telling reporters the gesture is an effort to use his platform to oppose segregation and opression. Several teammates, including center Justin Britt, defensive ends Cliff Avril and Frank Clark, running back Thomas Rawls, and cornerback Jeremy Lane, have shown public support for Bennett during his silent protest.
“I don’t know what the chances are (that the league accepts our proposal),” Bennett said. “Hopefully, the chances are 100 percent, but we’ll see. It takes a lot for a business or organization to get behind certain issues, and we’re hoping to keep pushing it to see if we can ever get to that place where we can be comfortable with talking about the issues that are going on around the country.”