Bennett says he'll sit for the anthem all season.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett did not stand for the national anthem prior to the team's preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and he'll continue to do so throughout the season.
After the game Bennett explained that he hopes his season-long protest will help raise awareness to racism and intolerance, similar to the way Colin Kaepernick did last season.
Bennett told reporters after Seattle's victory, per NFL.com,
"I hope that I can activate everybody to get off their hands and feet and go out into the communities and push helping each other," he told reporters after Sunday's game. "Sit down with somebody that's the opposite sex, sit down with somebody that's the opposite race, different religion and understand that people are different and go out and join the community and try to change the society, change what you're a part of. If you don't like it, keep changing it."
"Charlottesville had a lot to do with it but I think it's just the journey of who I am as a person. I think everybody has a time where they feel like they need to be who they are and stand up for what they believe in," Bennett explained.
He added, per the Seattle Times,
“First of all I want to make sure people understand I love the military—my father was in the military,” Bennett said.
“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 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.”
Bennett wasn't the only player not to stand for the national anthem over the weekend.
His former teammate, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, also sat on the bench during the anthem. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has also decided that he'll be raising his fist in the air during the national anthem throughout the season, as a form of protest.
Colin Kaepernick, who is the face of the national anthem protests, is still a free agent. Spike Lee has helped organize a rally for Kaepernick which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 23rd outside of the NFL's headquarters in New York City.