Michael Bennett: Cam Newton and other NFL stars can create social change

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Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett showed up at training camp Saturday, and he showed up wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt.

And as he talked about his own feelings and issues that mattered to him, he challenged other NFL players to follow the lead of their basketball counterparts, who have been more outspoken in recent weeks.

“The women and WNBA have really stood up for what they want, and I think that it’s time for the players in the NFL,” Bennett said of recent protests, via Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. “But a lot of things in the NFL are so broken. You don’t see a lot of great players talking about things socially, whether it’s Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, all of these guys, they’re white. They don’t have to deal with the things that we deal with as black players, so it’s not as many.

“In the NBA, everybody is standing up for it, so the greatest players are in the forefront of the movement. Here in the NFL, the greatest players aren’t in the forefront of the movement. Whether it’s the CBA, whether it’s things going on with trying to change the way — concussions. The greatest players aren’t involved like LeBron James, Chris Paul and all these guys [in the NBA]. Our great players are sitting back just taking the dollars, whether it’s Cam Newton, all these guys. They’re not really on the forefront of trying to change what’s going on.”

While that’s an immediately unfair position to put Newton in — his visit to the families of Charleston church shooting victims last year stands out — Bennett’s greater point was that the league as a whole wasn’t using its platform to promote social justice.

“Eventually, we’ll have to get together as a whole sports community, because at the end of the day, athletes have a brand, and we control what is sold in America,” Bennett said. “Whatever is sold, usually we’re the conduits to whatever it is. So whether it’s shoes, clothes, whatever, a drink, soda, food — athletes hold the key to what people want.

“So as athletes, we need to start controlling that influence and keep it positive and not always about dollar to dollar.”

Of course, not every athlete feels the same obligation as Bennett, and some who won’t commit to knowing what they’re talking about perhaps shouldn’t talk. And while singling out one star distracts from Bennett’s point, there are clearly many in the NFL who could exert their influence in that way if they chose to, and do not.

54 responses to “Michael Bennett: Cam Newton and other NFL stars can create social change

  1. Your not gonna change a thing wearing a black lives matter rag but if you leave the NFL and become an officer of the law you could make a big difference this shirt wearing message thing don’t do a thing the great MLK always wore a shirt and tie and is resposable for all kinds of change

  2. The social change needs to happen inside the black communities where the breakdown of the family unit, which is the root of all their problems, is complete. And the BLM movement, founded on the “hands up” lie, will die after the elections because it will stop being funded by the individuals looking to effect the election with it.

  3. Nobody cares what opinion you have Mr. Bennett……Shut up and provide my entertainment – that’s what you’re paid for. Nothing else.

    Opening your mouth makes me like you less – and by the way – how about a cause that affects EVERYBODY – those causes are always around – that’s the real change.

    Your advocacy of only one certain group reveals your underlying racism – the very thing you wish to stamp out – I find that quite ironic.

    Sad that you don’t understand that fact.

  4. And what is Michael Bennett doing, other then talking about doing something and wearing a t-shirt?

    Until I see action, I’m not going to take these athletes seriously when they preach. So far, Michael Jordan has been the only one to put his money where his mouth is.

  5. We do NOT need any more “Social Justice Warriors”, got that Bennett?

    There’s already too much activism going on in this country, and it’s getting people killed, including police officers.

    If you have spare time on your hands try mentoring kids, and keep football the heck out of politics.

  6. NFL exists to be competitive entertainment. It does not exist to create social change. Want to do that get out of football and get into one of the groups that works for it.

  7. Cops should be making way more money. Cops are like QBs. They have to make split-second decisions under pressure (I mean real pressure). You have to compete for the best talent. Who’s going to put their lives on the line for $40K? I’m tired of watching police funerals. The status quo is not going to change unless someone changes it. Bennett is probably tired of police funerals too. That’s why he’s moved to action. I wouldn’t oppose anyone who’s trying to change what’s going on right now. This is crazy. Strong people should speak out and keep the movement going. Good for you Bennett.

  8. Well, I believe the reason you may not see a lot of NFL athletes speak out on certain issues might be for the fact that they aren’t comfortable with the stance most movements are taking today.

    Even for someone as irrelevant as myself as a African American, if I was to take the stand of the BLM movement, then some have said, we’ll cops lives matter too… if I take the stance that COPS LIVES MATTER, then my African American Community would feel like I’m encouraging the radical behavior of police violence on my community…. If I suggest that ALL LIVES MATTER, then typically people from either the CLM, or BLM, would suggest that I’m missing the point of why their stance is what it is ….

    Having said that, it’s possible most influential athletes would probably take a neutral stance on the issues and just feel like they would be harshly criticized regardless…why can’t we just aim for a peaceful resolve between all parties.. because I value all black lives, just as I value the lives of all cops who are sworn to protect and serve.

  9. Race baiting hustlers like Sharpton and Jackson have done nothing. The democrats have done nothing. If they don’t keep the black community dependent on social programs and blame someone else they all would be out of work and have no power. Modern day slavery

  10. Mr. Bennett do you even realize just how hypocritical it is of you to promote social equality while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt?

  11. tinytoolalldrool says:

    My kid is a cop and puts his life on the line every day for people like you. I hate to break it to you Michael but the lives of cops matter also!
    .
    .

    Just because he is wearing a shirt that says black lives matter doesn’t mean he thinks police lives don’t matter, or white lives don’t matter.

    Your son signed up for being a cop which is cool. Hopefully he is a good one because there is a lot of bad ones with a system that protects the bad ones. YouTube Kelly Thomas and watch him being beat to death. All of the 6 cops who beat him to death for over 10 minutes are walking around free. He had not even committed a crime. He screamed and cried for his dad (who ironically was previously a sheriff) and begged for them to stop.

    People need a little bit of empathy in this world. Everyone does. White, black, cops, citizens. There is a problem with violence. It’s all over in our entertainment. We as a nation are always at war or involved in conflict… and it shows how violent we are as a society when people are always killing and beating eachother. Even our law enforcement is guilty of it and the courts protect them.

    So if someone is advocating for athletes to somehow have a positive impact on social issues, good for them. It’s not like he’s advocating violence against cops. He could be one of the players who is out there making a fool of himself, partying, getting into trouble, or acting violent.

    Just accept the fact that he believes in something you don’t believe in, but at least he’s a decent guy.

  12. make sure you do your duty BY NOT fathering illegitimate little rug rats which automatically start getting Federal benefits.
    Its a hell of a lot more then whining about blacks being shot by police.
    Impress these upstanding youth the importance of getting an education, learn English, pull your pants up, etc.
    Biovating about police brutality only, shows your ignorance in what is needed to help your fellow Blacks

  13. First of all, you guys who say “race card” every time there’s a call for justice are playing a race card of your own. You might as well just come out and say white people are perfect and incapable of any kind of social injustice. Second, Michael Bennett tried to take a completely needless shot at Cam but inadvertently pointed out that Cam is far and away more important than Russell Wilson, because who cares if RW speaks out, he barely has a platform. Thanks for the props BRUH

  14. I wouldn’t count on it.

    Half the population of this country thinks that climate science is fake, but pro wrestling is real.
    They also believe that the $800/month Social Security check your widowed grandma receives is bankrupting America, but letting billionaires go tax-free is making America prosperous.

    Ignorance can be educated and crazy can be medicated, but there’s no cure for stupid.

  15. You don’t see a lot of great players talking about things socially, whether it’s Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, all of these guys, they’re white. They don’t have to deal with the things that we deal with as black players, so it’s not as many.

    ___________________________

    Hmmm….The white people that support the BLM are constantly told by the BLM to, “Go to the back, sit down, and be quiet”.

  16. What’s astounding to me is that BLM started based on a lie. It started from Fergusson and “Hands up, don’t shoot”. This was proven by eye witnesses to be a lie. But the media and democratic politicans don’t care about the truth they just keep fanning the flames and people like me are sick of being told we are all racists.

  17. So is Mr. Bennett going accept the challenge and become a police officer or just talk.

  18. What you see on the TV is not real.. Whats gonna happen is a NATIONAL POLICE FORCE = POLICE STATE…. Get ready and enjoy…

  19. nflfolly says:
    Jul 31, 2016 12:30 PM
    Black lives matter a terrorist organization.
    ———————————————

    No its a fake organization engineered by George Soros.. It is used to divide people! TPTB is great at that.. Wake up!

  20. Whether it be the American Revolution, the Abolitionist movement, the women’s liberation, workers rights, and civil rights, this country moves forward when “the people” challenge the politics of the time.

  21. Good for him! It’s about time Black players start to realize that just playing and making money does not mean you have power or are accepted in this society. Most NFL fans are White while the vast majority of players are Black. Even though they go to games and cheer for these Black athletes, they don’t give a damn about Black people and the conditions Black people live. Just like the minstrel shows of the late 19th and early 2oth centuries, Whites like to come to an event to see Black people entertain them but make sure they stay in their place at the bottom of society. Black players should understand that just because White people cheer for you and wear your jersey doesn’t mean they love you. They like you as long as you entertain them and have no opinion on anything other than catching a football or dribbling a basketball.

  22. Be a responsible citizen, don’t have 5 kids with 4 mothers. Oh…stop being victims.

  23. His actually right….these professional sports leagues are a plantation system….the players perform on game day for a minute percentage of what the league and owners make for the entertainment of an audience who really could care less about them, their families or social injustice they experience…..

  24. “make sure you do your duty BY NOT fathering illegitimate little rug rats which automatically start getting Federal benefits”

    I like how some people assume that because you are on some government benefit, you are lazy or incompetent. I work with a number of clients who suffer from mental health issues ( schizophrenia, Bi-polar disorder, ADHD). Their symptoms make it difficult to work. Being on medication doesn’t helpf as the side effects can be more debilitating than the condition itself, hence why they self medicate with drugs. Many are not lazy, have been sexually assulted, undiagnosed, etc.

  25. The reason why whites haven’t come forward to comment on the BLM movement, is because, no matter what the white person says, he/she will be come considered a racist. The BLM in my eyes is separating themselves from the rest of us, in support of their race. They should be supporting their community and the people that protect them.
    90% of the deaths on a black person, is done by another black person.
    The black community in inner cities, are a high crime areas, with gangs, drugs, guns and death.
    My finger would be on the trigger at all times, if I had to patrol those areas.
    Instead of supporting criminals, maybe support your local police.
    Instead of supporting BLM, maybe support high crime community.
    Instead of blaming the police, look at the deaths of innocent people, shot by drive by shootings. Maybe blacks should stop that first before blaming the police and white america for the senseless deaths in this country.

  26. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that most people understand that BLM is a racist hate group promoting a bogus message based on a false narrative.

  27. @ skol4life says:
    Jul 31, 2016 11:13 AM

    Race baiting hustlers like Sharpton and Jackson have done nothing. The democrats have done nothing. If they don’t keep the black community dependent on social programs and blame someone else they all would be out of work and have no power. Modern day slavery
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    News Flash!!! Jesse Jackson hasn’t been relevant for many years. OTH, there’s nothing wrong with pointing social injustices. If the shoe fits wear it. Are you mad about the Anti-Defamation League? I get it, you don’t want to be reminded of what continues to happen in America. So keep your blinders on. So your take on Rush Limbaugh, Sara Palin, Sean Hannity and others just like them is what? How about the inflammatory and derogatory statements by Trump? These are the reasons people like Al Sharpton continue to make you squirm! Instead of criticizing them, how about you criticize the behavior of your own people too!

  28. @ skol4life says:
    Jul 31, 2016 11:13 AM

    Race baiting hustlers like Sharpton and Jackson have done nothing. The democrats have done nothing. If they don’t keep the black community dependent on social programs and blame someone else they all would be out of work and have no power. Modern day slavery
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Another NEWS FLASH!!! You do realize that many white americans depend on social programs? You do realize that right? White people use food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, Social Security, Section 8 Housing just to name a few.

  29. rukkus1 says:
    Jul 31, 2016 11:25 AM
    Just because he is wearing a shirt that says black lives matter doesn’t mean he thinks police lives don’t matter, or white lives don’t matter.

    Your son signed up for being a cop which is cool. Hopefully he is a good one because there is a lot of bad ones with a system that protects the bad ones. YouTube Kelly Thomas and watch him being beat to death. All of the 6 cops who beat him to death for over 10 minutes are walking around free. He had not even committed a crime. He screamed and cried for his dad (who ironically was previously a sheriff) and begged for them to stop.

    People need a little bit of empathy in this world. Everyone does. White, black, cops, citizens. There is a problem with violence. It’s all over in our entertainment. We as a nation are always at war or involved in conflict… and it shows how violent we are as a society when people are always killing and beating eachother. Even our law enforcement is guilty of it and the courts protect them.

    So if someone is advocating for athletes to somehow have a positive impact on social issues, good for them. It’s not like he’s advocating violence against cops. He could be one of the players who is out there making a fool of himself, partying, getting into trouble, or acting violent.

    Just accept the fact that he believes in something you don’t believe in, but at least he’s a decent guy.
    _______________________________
    I think you have swallowed hook, line and sinker the BLM narrative of the media. It’s nothing but politics…hence the focus on “victims” of the police at the Dem convention, rather than any focus on dead policemen. The Dems are pandering for votes, and the media is more than happy to assist their little queen Hillary.

    Regarding Bennett, when was the last time he put on a White Lives Matter T-shirt in remembrance of people like Kelly Thomas? I also haven’t seen Michael in a Blue Lives Matter shirt either. His advocacy obviously points in a certain direction, a direction I consider to be inherently racist. The media has brainwashed people into thinking that police are ONLY mean to blacks. This is a myth. In addition to my own experiences, I know of hundreds of whites that were treated horribly by police. BLM implies that only black people need to worry about this stuff, and I find that extremely offensive. Cops on average kill at least twice as many whites as they kill blacks. But BLM people conveniently ignor this fact.

    Cops are put in a horrible position, and blacks are a huge part of the problem. Crime, and especially murder, is rampant in the black community… extremely high as a percentage. Cops are still called when black people want help, but when they get there and try to protect them, there is ZERO cooperation. It puts cops in a tough spot. Either way, 99.9% of cops don’t wake up in the morning sand say to themselves, “I’m a racist pig and I’m going to go out and kill an innocent, unarmed black man today.” But the narrative spewed by our media and BLM implies that this is the case. It’s disgusting.

    There have been dozens of instances where BLM protests have included the advocacy of killing cops…it’s pretty widespread. And Bennett is wearing their shirt and advocating that particular group. Just admit that 2+2=4. Anybody that supports BLM is a racist and a cop hater, or at the very least, they are supporting racists and cop haters. All of this has set back the race relations in out country by about 50 years. I’m disgusted with the current direction of our once-wonderful country. Just because a group is black does not mean that it isn’t racist. There are millions of black people that hate white people and are devout racists. Not admiiting this is just burying one’s head in the sand and living in a fantasy world.

  30. Cam Newton is no more responsible for or obligated to do anything about the societal problems of this world than any other person on it.

  31. “His actually right….these professional sports leagues are a plantation system….the players perform on game day for a minute percentage of what the league and owners make for the entertainment of an audience who really could care less about them, their families or social injustice they experience…..”

    And who’s fault is that?
    No one forces anyone to play or entertain.
    Plantation system? BS! They run to the money for a flashy car and bling. Want to change that? Use that college education to build something instead of planning a career as a professional athlete, until then, stop asking for millions because you “deserve” it just to entertain.
    Get a job in the real world, that’s the plantation system.

  32. As a former and now retired “black” cop, I say, you darn right BLM! And ALL lives matter.

    Put away your GOP, and or Faux news talking points, for your bias is showing.

    Fact is, social change movements among black athletes is nothing new. If you grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, as many of us here did, social activism in sports is nothing new.

    Ali, Jim Brown, Kareem, John Carlos, Arthur Ashe, and countless others established a long history of social activism in sports DECADES ago. What’s that? You mean, before computers, and gaming. Stop acting as if the world began with your own generation. Clueless!

    Ali, was at the top of his profession during a time of great social change. So was Jim Brown, Kareem, Arthur, so don’t think one has to be a retired athlete to get involved in social activism, for that precedent was set – Decades ago.

    What’s “precedence?” G**gle it.

  33. @skol4life says:
    Jul 31, 2016 1:15 PM

    What’s astounding to me is that BLM started based on a lie. It started from Fergusson and “Hands up, don’t shoot”. This was proven by eye witnesses to be a lie. But the media and democratic politicans don’t care about the truth they just keep fanning the flames and people like me are sick of being told we are all racists.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    So does it disqualify the other killings of Black men and women when deadly force was used when not necessary? And the fact that policemen and its union, FOP and its Internal Affairs wouldn’t admit the truth…EVER. So if you’re upset about how it started, you’re misguided…you should be more upset about WHY it started.
    If it wasn’t going to be in Ferguson, MO, rest assured it was going to be somewhere. Maybe one day, you’ll come across a policeman having a bad day and shoots you because (1) you resisted (2) you assaulted him (as he tried to drag you from your vehicle). Then and only then will you begin to understand. Until, then continue living in denial.

  34. The problem I have with Michael Bennett is he should do what’s good for him and avoid saying what others should do and avoid singling out individuals.

    So he has on a t-shirt and made a statement…what’s next Mike? Now that training camps across the league have started, you missed a great opportunity to have fellow players meet and discuss an action plan or an agenda. Hell, with your vast resources, set up a video conference call. Make it an open invitation.

    Otherwise, put the t-shirt in the laundry and stop telling others what they should do.

  35. “I think you have swallowed hook, line and sinker”

    Willyeye says:Jul 31, 2016 2:25 PM
    .
    .

    I don’t know why I’m even responding to you. Look at your very first words. “I think you”…. everything you say is predicated on your perception of the world. Thus is the case for all of us.

    Then you go one to speak about democrats and their convention. Willy, all politicians have the means to stop all this social tension. They don’t though. Not democrats or republicans. Before you go jumping to to conclusion, I am neither.

    You then go on to discredit and marginalize Bennett by suggesting he should wear a white lives or blue lives to shirt. Saying he is racist because he only wore a black lives tee. Suggesting he should do it for Kelly Thomas or the sniped officers.

    Willy, how do you know that Bennett doesn’t think it is wrong what happened to Kelly Thomas? How can you suggest he doesn’t care about slain officers? Maybe he does care about that and it does bother him, but he chose to advocate for the people who look like him.

    just because a guy says he likes breasts doesn’t mean he hates booty.

    I’m not saying all this stuff because I think BLM is some great movement. Some of the BLM people may be extremely filled with hate. Some of them may care that white people got shot by cops… or even that cops got shot!

    What I AM saying is this… people need to to quit being so apathetic and calloused. Everyone’s life does matter, but if someone wants to say black lives matter, it’s not an assault on white people or cops. Not everything is either/or.

  36. @ johnwill57
    You mentioned Al Sharpton. Talk about a racist. IMHO anyone with at least average intelligence does not squirm at the mention of his name as you would suggest but instead see him for what he really is. And that’s a racist buffoon.

  37. I don’t understand the culture of listening to celebrities and athletes for social or political commentary. These are two of the most privileged and out of touch groups, and make up a large part of the “1%”. The media should ask the people on the ground, working everyday in our most impoverished neighborhoods about what works and what doesn’t, rather than listen to some athlete with no knowledge parrot what they read on the Internet. Likewise, it might be smart to listen to environmental stewards who aren’t flying private jets and sailing the seas on diesel powered yachts.

  38. I have never lived a day as a black man, so I don’t think I’m qualified to comment on their perspective of society being against them because of their skin color.

    I do wish that people who still insist that Michael Brown was some innocent kid walking down the street minding his own business and was shot by a cop in cold blood would admit that this is not what happened, that he was a burglar that made an aggressive move toward a cop and got shot for it. Admitting that would not diminish the concerns the BLM movement wants to see addressed.

    As for Bennett, I find it hypocritical for him to call out Cam Newton instead of the Jesus Juice QB on his own team. Hopefully, poetic justice will be served on December 4, when Cam runs through Bennett’s attempted tackle to score the game-winning TD with 1 minute left.

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