Michael Bennett has never been afraid to speak his mind. And now Marshawn Lynch has some company.
The Seahawks defensive end said the events of the weekend caused him to think, and to sit through the national anthem while his teammates stood with locked arms on the sidelines last night before their game against the Chargers.
“First of all, I want people to understand that I love the military,” Bennett said, via ESPN.com. “My father’s 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 or oppression.
“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 has been an outspoken advocate of protests in the past, and a staunch supporter of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who’s still looking for a job for reasons unrelated to his football abilities.
He did not talk to his Seattle teammates about his plan (he didn’t want to be a #distraction), and while he’s talked to other players about his intentions he did not speak to Lynch, who sat through the anthem Saturday night.
Bennett said he hopes any attention he draws will spark others to get involved in their communities.
“I’m being vulnerable right now,” Bennett said. “There’s a whole bunch of people sitting at home judging me, but they will never get to this point where they can be vulnerable. Let people attack me because they don’t believe what I believe in, but at the end of the day, I’m being vulnerable to show every person that no matter [what] you believe in, keep fighting for it. Keep fighting for equality. Keep fighting for oppressed people. And keep trying to change society.”
While it’s impossible to argue that Kaepernick’s unemployment is directly related to teams not wanting the attention that comes with his political stances — though he’s declared through representatives he didn’t plan to protest during the anthem this season — it’s also clear the issues he raised aren’t going away.
And there are more players who are willing to take up his burden, if he’s not there to do it himself.