Michael Bennett followed in his former teammate’s footsteps Sunday and he intends to continue the march.
The Seahawks defensive end sat with a towel over his head during the national anthem prior to Seattle’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center.
Bennett’s decision to sit came one day after Oakland Raiders running back and ex-Seahawk Marshawn Lynch sat during the anthem in his team’s preseason debut. Bennett explained after Seattle’s 48-17 win that his actions were meant to promote equality, not divisiveness.
“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 said the recent violence stemming from a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., inspired his actions and he plans to continue sitting during national anthems at Seahawks games.
“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.”
Bennett has been an ardent supporter of Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during national anthems last year while on the San Francisco 49ers and remains a free agent.
Bennett’s teammates and coaches weren’t aware of his plans, but a member of the Seahawks’ front office supported the defensive end’s actions “as long as Michael is preaching love and not hate,” per ESPN’s Jim Trotter.
Thumbnail photo viaÂ Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images