For the past couple of seasons in the NFL, Michael Bennett has joined free agent Colin Kaepernick in his social injustice protest, choosing to either remain seated or stay in the locker room during the national anthem.
But since being traded to the Dallas Cowboys from the New England Patriots, the defensive lineman and three-time Pro Bowler, has chosen to stand as other players do and says he is doing it for his fellow Cowboys, despite reports that he stood for the past two games because of an agreement prior to his trade with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“I feel at this point in my career if my teammates asked me to do something and I can do it,” Bennett, 33, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I know people want to make it what it what they want to. I don’t know what to tell them.”
In 2018, he released his autobiography titled “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable.” In it, he explained why most NFL players are Black: “I never thought I was going to the NFL. I never believed, ‘This is exactly what I want to do. This is the dream.’ But when you’re big and Black, the grown-ups push you to play sports. They take an interest that is hard to ignore or resist.”
Earlier this year, while still on the Patriots, Bennett stood his ground and said he planned to remain in the locker room during the national anthem. “I explained to them is that my integrity means everything,” Bennett said, according to ESPN. “I think they respect that about me, they respect who I am as an individual.”
He maintains that he will remain an activist voice even if he continues to stand for the anthem.
“I am a Black man,” Bennett said. “I have always said that. I have always stood on what I have believed in every single situation whether it’s with Donald Trump, whether it was with the police, whether it was with police brutality, how women of color have been treated, how much money I have donated to different things, the causes I have stood up with, the people I have stood with. It doesn’t make me less of a person.”
Bennett is currently discussing with the NFL teaching a class on racism at an Ivy League university, the Star-Telegram reported.
Since joining the Cowboys, his third team in three years, he has had five tackles, one sack, and six quarterback hits in two games. But after his trade was complete, the team took a year off his contract and after this season, he will be a free agent if he chooses not to retire.
“It could be my last year in the NFL. I have been thinking about what is the best thing for my family, what is the best thing health-wise for the future,” he said. “I am just taking it one game at a time, one year at a time.”