Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was the second star NFL player to sit during the national anthem over the weekend.
After Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem in his first preseason game with the Oakland Raiders, Bennett followed suit.
According to ESPN, Bennett didn’t tell his teammates or coaches of his plans because he didn’t want to be a distraction.
Bennett said his protests were, in part, stirred by the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and that he plans to continue sitting during the season.
“First of all, I want people to understand that I love the military,” Bennett said. “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 added: “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 … 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 a vocal supporter of Colin Kaepernick and his national-anthem protest last season. Kaepernick remains an unsigned free agent, which Bennett said earlier in the offseason is “hard to fathom.”
“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.”
While Lynch did not address the media after his first preseason game with the Raiders, it appears that this will once again be an ongoing subject in the NFL. It remains unclear when or if Kaepernick will get a shot to play this season, but if star players like Bennett and Lynch continue to sit during the anthem, more players may join them.