Michael Bennett Explains Why He Won't Stand for Anthem, Talks Charlottesville

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2017

ARCHIVO - En esta fotografía de archivo del 14 de enero de 2017, Michael Bennett, defensive end de los Seahawks de Seattle, abandona el terreno tras un encuentro ante los Falcons de Atlanta (AP Foto/David Goldman, archivo)
David Goldman/Associated Press

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett will continue to sit during the national anthem prior to games.

In an interview with CNN, Bennett explained why he will remain seated when the national anthem is played. 

"I can't stand for the national anthem," he said. "I can't stand right now. I'm not going to be standing until I see the equality and freedom."

Bennett also noted the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, played a role in his decision to keep protesting the national anthem:

"I grew up around that, listening and remembering those things, and thinking about Charlottesville brought back those memories. It actually brought tears to my eyes to see people fighting and having to hate for somebody because of their color. I couldn't believe it took (President Donald Trump) 48 hours to respond. I thought he would have responded within seconds. And when he came on, I thought he should have handled it just as fast as when he's tweeting about Russia or something."

Bennett's former teammate with the Seahawks, running back Marshawn Lynch, also sat prior to the Oakland Raiders' preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.

Per Jimmy Durkin of the Athletic, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said after the game that Lynch informed him he's sat during the anthem for 11 years and "it's not a form of anything other than me being myself."

Bennett has also spoken out in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began protesting the national anthem last year during preseason games and took a knee before each regular season game. 

The Seahawks star told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times in August 2016 Kaepernick was using "freedom of speech" and his stance was "a guy standing up for what he believes in."

Bennett told CNN he believes Kaepernick is "one of the best fighters in sports history for...equality in my generation."