Bennett also offered moments of humor and poignancy during a one-hour talk and question-and-answer session.
Anyone expecting even the slightest hints of bitterness from Michael Bennett in his first public appearance in Seattle since his trade from the Seahawks to the Eagles last March was left disappointed Monday night.
Instead, during a town-hall meeting to talk about his book “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable,’’ Bennett offered mostly reflection, humor, calls for greater empathy, and at one point, a moment of great poignancy when he momentarily choked up in talking about a chapter in which he wrote about the steps he has taken to repair his relationship with his birth mother, who was largely absent during his childhood.
Bennett was greeted with a standing ovation and a brief “Sea-hawks’’ chant from a sellout crowd at Temple De Hirsh Sinai and also received applause many other times during the hourlong talk moderated by longtime Seattle-area sports journalist Art Thiel.
“I walk through the city of Seattle and I get love wherever I go,’’ said Bennett, who played for the Seahawks in 2009 and again from 2013-17, a key part of two Super Bowl teams, before being dealt to the Eagles in March.
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Bennett said he didn’t think his trade, or the decision of the team to cut Richard Sherman, was related to their social activism.
Instead, Bennett called it just part of life as an NFL player.
“Me being traded is part of the business,’’ he said. “But it doesn’t make it any easier.’’
Bennett said he was “shocked’’ by the trade but also said he had a good conversation with coach Pete Carroll when the Seahawks told him of the deal.
Bennett said Carroll told him that when both retire from the NFL that Carroll wants Bennett “to do some work with him as far as his charities. So it was just having a real conversation.’’
Bennett touched on a number of other topics either during his talk or a question-and-answer-session that followed.
Here are some highlights:
— Asked about a report that he had taken to reading books during team meetings last year because he had heard every joke and anecdote of Carroll’s, Bennett laughed and said, “I said coach Carroll is a good person, I didn’t say he was a good comedian.’’ Bennett said that the time he read a book in a meeting “was like a rookie meeting’’ that he hadn’t been required to attend. “It was something that he didn’t ask me to do but I would be there reading a book every once in a while,’’ he said.
— Bennett was one of the most notable players to sit for the national anthem last season. Asked about President Donald Trump’s recent comments that players who sit for the anthem maybe “shouldn’t be in the country,’’ Bennett reiterated that protesting “was never about the flag’’ but about raising awareness of a number of social issues. “It was about every issue you could think about that people were going through,’’ Bennett said.
— Asked about the NFL’s new anthem policy in which players who are on the field will be required to stand, Bennett said he would have preferred a different policy but also indicated that he thinks the focus should now be on what the players can do to work on social issues in their cities. “It isn’t so much about the gesture anymore,” he said. “. … we don’t have to take a knee. We just have to work in our communities.’’
— Asked about a report from New York Daily News columnist Shaun King that players could consider boycotting the season due to the new NFL anthem policy, Bennett said he knows King but said of striking, “I’m not sure that’s the right answer.’’
— Asked how he thinks NFL players will respond to the new policy and whether there will be protests this season, Bennett said, “I don’t have any predictions. I don’t know what’s going to happen.’’
— Bennett said he had no real comment on a case in Houston in which he faces a felony charge of injury of the elderly. Bennett has an arraignment set for June 27. “Just moving forward, letting the court do their thing,’’ Bennett said.
— Bennett also seemed to indicate he may not be further pursuing a potential suit against police in Las Vegas after he alleged he was the victim of racial profiling and excessive force when he was briefly detained last August after a report of a potential shooting at a nightclub. Asked for an update on that case, Bennett said, “I just want to keep pushing reform for things like that not to happen because I’m one of the lucky ones who lived to tell the story.’’
Bennett will also speak Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Seattle First Baptist Church. It is sold out but can be accessed via a livestream on townhallseattle.org/live/