For the most part, national anthem protests haven’t been a big story with the New England Patriots.
That could change next season, however.
Pass rusher Michael Bennett, whom the Patriots reportedly acquired via trade last week, has either knelt, sat or stayed in the locker room during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” since Colin Kaepernick first began protesting racial injustice in 2016. Some have wondered whether he’ll continue to do so next season with the Patriots, given the team’s power trio — Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady — are believed to be Donald Trump supporters.
As it turns out, Bennett already has discussed the matter with his new team, and it sounds like nothing will change.
“I explained to them is that my integrity mean everything,” Bennett said Monday during an appearance at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, via ESPN’s William C. Rhoden. “I think they respect that about me, they respect who I am as an individual.”
He added: “The Patriots have been trying to trade for me for two years. Last year they tried to get me, the year before they tried to get me.”
Bennett said quite a lot during his appearance at Princeton. Perhaps most notably, he said he’s looking forward to engaging Belichick and Brady on their perceived support of the United States president.
As for Bennett the football player, he’ll be an important piece on the team’s defense, especially now that defense end Trey Flowers reportedly has agreed to a deal with the Detroit Lions.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images