Michael Bennett and his defensive line mates stood and linked arms as the national anthem was played before the Cardinals-Seahawks game on Thursday Night Football
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has pledged to remain seated for the national anthem before every game this year, and a number of his teammates have joined him.
However, on Thursday night, as the anthem was played at University of Phoenix Stadium before the Seahawks’ eventual 22-17 win over the Cardinals, they all stood for the anthem — including Bennett.
Bennett, several of his defensive linemates, Oday Aboushi, Justin Britt and running back Thomas Rawls all stood in a row with their arms linked during the anthem.
“We just wanted to support the vets,” Bennett said after the game, which was the Cardinals’ ‘Salute to Service’ night. “There’s this narrative that we don’t support the military, that we hate the military. But it’s never been about that.
“Today was the opportunity to stand up for the military and that’s what we wanted to do. It’s important for us to show gratitude for the men and women who serve this country every single moment we can, and today was one of those times we were able to show our support for them and what they do for us, and how they sacrifice for their families. That’s what it was about.”
Bennett, the son of a Navy veteran, has emphasized that he respects the military and that his decision to sit for the anthem is to advocate for the rights of minorities.
Britt, who had stood with a hand on Bennett’s shoulder, emphasized that the protests were never about the military.
“We were never, Mike and them were never taking a seat on the bench and I wasn’t putting my hand on his shoulder to support him to disrespect troops or veterans or anything military,” said Britt, whose father served 11 years in the Army. “It’s about liberty and justice for all, and that’s gotten lost in translation. So while the NFL and the league is showing support and appreciation to veterans and the military, so are we. And we don’t want that message to get twisted or taken the wrong way.”
Bennett started sitting for the anthem in the first game of the year, and by the Colts game in October, the defensive line had decided to sit with him in a show of solidarity.
There have, however, been exceptions to Bennett’s demonstrations this season. After President Donald Trump ranted at the end of September asking NFL owner to “fire” any players who would not stand for the anthem, the entire team stayed in the locker room for their game against the Titans.
Then, on Oct. 8, before their game against the Los Angeles Rams, the entire team once again stood for the anthem. Frank Clark later explained that it was a show of respect for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting that had occurred the previous week. A moment of silence for the victims was observed before the game.