Martellus Bennett Explains Decision To Raise Fist After National Anthem

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FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty made a statement by raising their fists in the air after the national anthem played Sunday night prior to New England’s Week 1 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Bennett, like McCourty, comes from a military family and said he meant no disrespect to the flag or armed services.

The statement made by Bennett and McCourty comes on the heels of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s controversial decision to sit for the national anthem.

Here’s what Bennett had to say about the silent gesture:

On his message and goal by the statement: “I won’t go in deep detail, but really just to start the conversation, to get people to take notice. Some things people just brush under the rug, under the water, under the bridge, but it’s big. It doesn’t just affect one family, it affects all families. From the moments when you’re riding in the car, and there’s a Young Jeezy song on, you hear it, and you hear the sirens in the background of the music, you panic, and you freeze while you’re driving. When it comes to that point, it’s really time to start having a conversation. I like Young Jeezy, but, you know…”

On if he plans to make the same statement in Week 2: “I don’t know. For me, it’s not really — my dad served 10 years. I was born on a Navy base in San Diego. I grew up in a military family, so I grew up on different bases. It’s not really anything for me — it’s not the anthem or the flag that I’m against. When Francis Scott Key wrote that, everything that was going on in the War of 1812 — I don’t know how I know that — but when he wrote that and everything that it symbolizes, holding up the flag and all of those fighting for those freedoms during that battle, that’s huge for me. And I believe in that. My dad served and protected that flag with his life. He’s still here, and I’m grateful for that, but he did that for 10 years, so I would never disrespect the flag. At the same time, I want to bring attention to what is going on and how we can bring about change. That’s pretty much it — and in a positive way. I’m not trying to be a distraction. I’m not trying to do anything else but have the conversation. If anybody wants to talk to me or anyone wants to know, hey that’s what it is.”

On if he worries people will misinterpret the gesture: “Anything you do in life people misinterpret. My wife sometimes, she says somethings in text messages, and I’m like, ‘I didn’t even do nothing!’ Everybody has a different perspective. Everybody’s not going to see things the same way, no matter who you are, what you bring change, whether it’s Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, whoever it may be. Everybody goes in different ways about it and different approaches. I think when other people change, it’s usually something people are afraid of. No one really likes change. When it’s something that’s foreign, that they don’t know, it’s scary, even for us to do it. We’re going to get attacked, so whatever I do or don’t say or do say, I’m getting attacked from either side. What do I want and what am I going to do, that’s really what it’s about. As long as I’m straight with my perspective, and everybody knows what I’m doing and where I’m going, I don’t really care about the outside world.”

On the fear factor of making a statement: “I’m not really scared of anything, except for Chucky — (expletive) up little doll.”

On if he heard from Bill Belichick on the statement: “Nah, I did not.”

On if he takes that as a positive: “Sometimes you go home, and your parents don’t say anything to you if you did something — you don’t know. But he knows we’re not being malicious. That’s a good choice of words.”

Thumbnail photo via Thumbnail photo via Doug Kyed/NESN

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