Seahawks' Michael Bennett sits during anthem: 'It's about being a human being'

Published: Monday, August 14, 2017 @ 2:33 PM

Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks speaks during a Super Bowl XLIX media availability at the Arizona Grand Hotel on January 29, 2015 in Chandler, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks speaks during a Super Bowl XLIX media availability at the Arizona Grand Hotel on January 29, 2015 in Chandler, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett on Sunday said he sat Saturday as the national anthem played before his team’s preseason game against the Chargers in Los Angeles because he wanted to use his platform to stand against injustice.

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Bennett told reporters he sat to send a message about racial inequality and that the deadly clashes between protesters and counterprotesters Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, played a role in his decision.

“I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve, and I want to use this platform to continuously push the message of that,” he said. “It’s more about being a human being at this point.”

Bennett sat on the bench with a towel over his head Sunday while the rest of the Seahawks locked arms during the anthem — as they did all of last season — ESPN reported.

The Seahawks were in Los Angeles on Saturday, taking on the Chargers in both teams’ preseason opener.

>> Related: Trump condemns KKK, white supremacists days after deadly Charlottesville attack

Bennett’s former Seahawks teammate, current Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, did not stand on Saturday when the national anthem played before the Raiders took on the Arizona Cardinals.

After that game, Oakland coach Jack Del Rio told reporters that he had spoken to Lynch about not standing.

>> Related: Oakland Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch sits during national anthem

“He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’ I said, ‘So you understand how I feel. I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I’m going to respect you as a man. You do your thing; we’ll do ours.’ So, that’s a nonissue for me.”

>> Related: This is not my Charlottesville. Hate doesn't win in my hometown.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to draw attention for his failure to stand for the anthem, although the first time he did so, last preseason, it didn’t get much notice.

Later in the 2016 preseason, he told NFL Media that he was “not going to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he told NFL Media. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

>> Related: Who is James Alex Fields Jr., suspect in deadly Charlottesville car attack?

Bennett refused to stand one day after protesters clashed in Charlottesville. Police said 20-year-old James Alex Fields, described by a former teacher as a fan of Adolf Hitler, slammed a car into two stopped vehicles and protesters opposing a white nationalist rally on Saturday. The attack killed one woman, identified by police as 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and injured 19 others.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Trump says there's 'no leadership in NFL'

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

Roger Goodell Wants NFL Players To Stand During Anthem

President Donald Trump on Monday lamented what he called a lack of leadership in the NFL days after the league’s commissioner said no plans are in place to force football players to stand during the national anthem.

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“Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning. “No leadership in NFL!”

NFL commissioner Roger Goddell said last week that he believes players “should” stand for the anthem, but that team owners and other officials are focused on understanding the issues that are prompting the protests. He said that players will not be penalized if they choose to kneel during the anthem.

"I think our clubs all see this the same way -- we want our players to stand, we're going to encourage them to stand and we're going to continue to work on these issues in the community," Goodell said Tuesday at a news conference following the Fall League Meeting in New York.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling during the anthem last year, to protest police violence against minorities. The protest got mixed reactions, but other NFL players -- and players in other sports -- have since followed Kaepernick’s lead, to protest inequality.

>> Related: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants players to stand during national anthem, memo says

“They're talking about criminal justice reform,” Goddell said last week. “They're talking about changes that, I think, will make our communities better -- that there's bipartisan support for and that need focus. … They're talking about equality issues, making sure we're doing everything we possibly can to give people an opportunity, whether it's an education or economic and what we can do to try to effectuate that. And we believe, with the players, that we can help them, we can support them. And those are our issues, national issues, American issues that are all important."

Trump suggested last month that NFL team owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the anthem, telling a crowd in Alabama that “that’s a total disrespect for our heritage.”

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(Evan Vucci/AP)
Goddell said last week that players “are not doing this in any way to be disrespectful to the flag, but they also understand how it's being interpreted, and we're dealing with those underlying issues."

Related

Colin Kaepernick not invited to annual owners and NFLPA meeting

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 9:06 PM

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 24:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 24: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)(Harry How/Getty Images)

NFL owners and the NFL Players Association met in New York Tuesday for a regularly scheduled meeting with the topic of the national anthem protests in mind. Knowing this, many players were expecting one important free agent to be invited in Colin Kaepernick considering he was the person who got it all started. However, it was made clear that he was not invited, according to his attorney.

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That apparently didn’t sit well with players that were invited to the meetings.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman made his displeasure pretty clear, telling ESPN’s Brady Henderson, “You’ve heard every excuse in the book for why he doesn’t have a job, but you see what it is. They’ve agreed not to give him a job.”

Related: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants players to stand during national anthem, memo says

Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL alleging that there has been collusion in not signing him. A case can certainly be made that there’s a concerted effort to not sign Kaepernick to some team as there are several backups and even starting QBs in the league who are not better than him, but to prove actual collusion is going to be pretty tough.

Colin Kaepernick Files Greivance Against The NFL

National anthem protests: Jaguars apologize for 'not comprehending effect' of demonstration

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 12:05 PM

Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel down during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Tim Ireland/AP
Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel down during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)(Tim Ireland/AP)

The president of the Jacksonville Jaguars sent a letter this month to city officials, apologizing for the team’s kneeling during the national anthem during their Sept. 24 game in London. 

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The letter, dated Oct. 6, said the team was "remiss in not fully comprehending the effect of the national anthem demonstration on foreign soil has on the men and women who continue to serve our country." 

Written by Mark Lamping and addressed to Bill Spann, the director of military affairs for Jacksonville, the letter goes on to say, "Today, we can understand how the events in London could have been viewed or misinterpreted. We owe you an apology and hope you will accept it."

>> Read the letter the Jaguars sent to the city of Jacksonville

Before their game against the Baltimore Ravens last month, about a dozen Jaguars players kneeled during the national anthem. The move came days after President Donald Trump suggested that players who knelt during the national anthem should be cut from the team.

WATCH: Trump Says NFL Owners Should 'Fire' Players Protesting the National Anthem

Some Jaguars fans were angered over the move, with one fan man destroying his Jaguars gear and another flying a plane above EverBank Field asking fans to boycott the Jaguars and the NFL. 

The Jaguars, 3-3 on the season, have a game at division rival Indianapolis on Sunday. Their next home game is Nov. 5 vs. Cincinnati.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants players to stand during national anthem, memo says

Published: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 @ 3:15 PM
Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 6:27 PM

Roger Goodell Wants NFL Players To Stand During Anthem

UPDATE Oct. 11:

The National Football League Players Association, the organization representing NFL players, said in a joint statement Wednesday that NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith will join NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in league meetings Oct. 17 and 19. Player leadership will also be in attendance.

“There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem. The agenda will be a continuation of how to make progress on the important social issues that players have vocalized,” the statement said. “Everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these issues in a civil and constructive way.”

Earlier Wednesday, a league spokesman told NFL.com the NFL does not have plans to mandate players stand for the national anthem, contrary to reports.

“Commentary this morning about the Commissioner's position on the Anthem is not accurate,” gthe spokesman said. “The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together.”

ORIGINAL STORY Oct. 10:

In a letter to the league, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants players to stand during the national anthem before games.

ESPN reported that Goodell expressly said he wanted players to do so. 

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“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell wrote, according to The Washington Post. “It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”

“Building on many discussions with clubs and players, we have worked to develop a plan that we will review with you at next week’s League meeting,” Goodell said, according to CNBC, which also obtained a copy of the Tuesday letter.

Related: Roger Goodell calls Trump’s attack on NFL players’ protests ‘divisive’

The letter did not have specifics on how Goodell will enforce players standing during the anthem, but the measure would “include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues.”

Goodell said chief executives and club presidents will “continue the unprecedented dialogue with our players.”

According to ESPN, discussions on the rule change would likely happen at the NFL’s regularly-scheduled fall meetings Oct. 17 and 18.

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told Yahoo Sports team owners will discuss anthem rules at the fall meeting.

“I expect and look forward to a full and open discussion of these issues when we meet next week in New York,” Goodell wrote. “Everyone involved in the game needs to come together on a path forward to continue to be a force of good within our communities, protect the game, and preserve our relationship with fans throughout the country.”

Read Goodell’s full memo, from NBC News, below. 

Related: The NFL Responds to Trump’s ‘Divisive’ Remarks

The NFL Responds to Trump’s ‘Divisive’ Remarks