A conversation that was started one year ago by Colin Kaepernick continues to make waves throughout the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett choose to stay seated during the national anthem prior to an NFL preseason game against the Chargers on Sunday. After the game, Bennett spoke candidly about his decision to sit, referencing both Kaepernick and the white supremacy rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, where one person was killed and multiple others were injured when a man drove his car into a group of people protesting the use of Confederate and Nazi flags.
“Seeing everything in Virginia…I just wanted to be able to use my platform to continuously speak out on injustice,” Bennett said, according to the Seattle Times. “First of all I want to make sure people understand I love the military — 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.”
Bennett was joined in his protest on the weekend by former teammate Marshawn Lynch, who sat out the anthem before a game on Saturday for his new team, the Oakland Raiders. The recently un-retired Lynch claims he has been doing this regularly for years, although he has been reluctant to speak publicly about it. To be fair, he’s reluctant to talk to any media, famously racking up large fines for refusing to speak to the press after games.
Bennett continued to explain himself to the media, saying that he will continue to use his fame as a professional football player to speak up for what he believes is right. After reading the following quote, especially the final sentence, we can’t disagree with him.
“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 and keep finding out how unselfish we can be in society, how we can continuously love one another and understand that people are different. And just because people are different doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t like them. Just because they don’t eat what you eat, just because they don’t pray to the same God you pray to doesn’t mean you should hate them. Whether it is Muslim, whether it is Buddhist, whether it is Christianity, I just want people to understand that no matter what, we need to stay together. It’s more about being a human being at this point.”
Meanwhile, Kaepernick is still unemployed and likely being blackballed by league owners.