Michael Bennett is backing his words with his dollars.
The Seattle Seahawks defensive end announced Thursday in a statement he’ll donate all the endorsement money he earns in 2017 to causes aimed at helping minority communities empowering women of color in the U.S. He said Chance the Rapper’s recent $1 million gift to the Chicago Public Schools inspired him to act in similar fashion.
“I was inspired by Chance the Rapper to ‘think bigger’ when he pledged one million dollars to Chicago kids and their school system,” Bennett said, per ESPN. “So, I’ll be joining him by investing in the future of our youth. The system is failing our kids, and it will be up to the community and our leaders to help keep the hope alive by focusing on improving our education system and the future of our kids. Any company that decides to invest in me, just know that you’ll be investing in opportunities and providing inspiration for these families — many who feel unnoticed or go unmentioned.”
Bennett, a four-time Pro Bowl pick, indicated he’ll direct half the proceeds from his jersey sales this year to inner-city garden projects.
He also called on other athletes to follow his lead.
“I’m asking all professional athletes to join me by donating a portion of your endorsements this year to a cause of your choice,” Bennett said. “We can make a difference. It’s up to us to help plant seeds of hope and help fuel the future.”
Bennett, 31, is one of the NFL’s most outspoken players on social issues. He supported former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest last season, opted out of an NFL-sanctioned offseason trip to Israel and “stood with” the women’s strike on International Women’s Day.
With his words and actions, Bennett is ensuring his influence will extend far beyond the confines of NFL playing fields.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images