Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett did not stand for the national anthem before the team's preseason opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Bennett was photographed sitting on the bench with a towel over his head, behind a row of standing teammates and coaches.
.@Seahawks Michael Bennett during anthem pic.twitter.com/RVbpZhyaAZ— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) August 14, 2017
Bennett is one of several Seahawks who have been vocally supportive of free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the national anthem last season as a protest against police violence.
"It's going to take the organization," Bennett said earlier this month when asked what it will take for a team to sign Kaepernick. "I think the players have spoken up enough. I think the media has spoken up. It just takes the ownership for someone to say we want this guy in our locker room. I think a lot of teams, like we said before, were really affected by what he did and what he did this year. It wasn't criminal.
"There's been guys who have criminal records, guys who have been accused of murder, guys who have been accused of rape and domestic violence who are still in the NFL. It's crazy to see this guy not have an opportunity in the NFL. It's just weird. I mean, some quarterbacks, as we all know, shouldn't be playing, but they are, and this guy is sitting on the side. We all know why. It's just hard to fathom that he's not having a job this year."
This statement came after Bennett had previously expressed surprise that Kaepernick was not yet on a roster and noted that teams should be happy to have a leader like Kaepernick on their team.
"Yeah, it does surprise me. Kap is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL," Bennett said at the time. "He's also one of the most genuine people you could possibly meet. All the stuff that he's doing off the field, the things that he's doing in the communities, he's just serving everybody. Teams should be happy to have a leader like that, a guy who's dedicated to the people around him and he's dedicated to making their life better. The only thing he could do is make the offense even better."
The Seahawks first hinted that they might protest but then merely joined arms during the national anthem for the first game of the 2016 season. The team considered signing Kaepernick earlier this offseason, but ultimately turned to Austin Davis instead.