Seattle Seahawks

Bennett takes political stand rare in pro sports

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett wears a Darth Vader mask as he runs onto the field before his game against the Browns on Sunday. On Wednesday, Bennett endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in a rare public political display by a professional athlete.
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett wears a Darth Vader mask as he runs onto the field before his game against the Browns on Sunday. On Wednesday, Bennett endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in a rare public political display by a professional athlete. The Associated Press

Turns out, politics is a regular topic inside the Seattle Seahawks’ locker room. And Wednesday, Michael Bennett made that obvious when the defensive end met the media in a hallway outside that locker room while wearing a Bernie Sanders cap and campaign button.

“I’m voting for Bernie Sanders next year,” Bennett said. “If he’s a candidate he’s my pick, my choice.”

Sen. Sanders, from Vermont, is running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Bennett is preparing for the Seahawks’ home game Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

“I just like a lot of the things that he talks about: social injustice, climate control, just a lot of different things that he says. I just think he’s an honest guy,” Bennett said. “He’s one of the main people that I really think has the platform to tell the truth to the people. And I think that’s what people need to hear, the honest truth — not so much hate like Donald Trump and people like that. Not so much about war but more about improving people and improving the economy and just livin’ good.”

Modern professional athletes typically stay clear of any potentially controversial social or political stance. Not because they are afraid fans won’t agree with what their saying, but because they are afraid current and potential endorsers won’t. Pro players don’t want to risk money they stand to gain through endorsements by saying anything that’s not down the middle politically and socially.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady entered the fray this season by having a Donald Trump campaign hat in his locker, and saying in an interview “That (Trump winning the election) would be great.” He later walked those comments back a bit and said he is friends with Trump and supports his friends.

“Obviously, if you say something you are going to be judged by people at the click of a button with Twitter and Instagram and Facebook,” Bennett said. “But for me, that doesn’t really matter. It’s just my opinion. It’s who I like and that’s what I like.

“Some people like red. Some people like blue. I just happen to like Bernie Sanders.”

Bennett said once the team comes off the practice field, politics is a regular topic.

“Politics is always a discussion in the locker room, especially among my peers: (Brandon) Mebane and Cliff Avril and Richard Sherman,” he said. “We always talk a lot about politics. I think it has a lot to do with what goes on around the world, and a lot of people are affected by things that go on. We like to talk about it and be a part of it.”

Bennett was asked whether they generally agree.

“We never see eye to eye,” he said. “Politics, religion and money is three things you don’t talk about.”

However, on this day, Bennett did talk about it. And he understands not every fan will be happy about that.

Bennett said he hopes that his raising the topic can inspire young fans to become more active voting citizens.

“I think a lot of times people worry more about the presidential election, but they need to be more involved in their local elections, their sheriffs, mayors and things like that,” he said. “I think a lot of kids, they want to be part of it. Look at (President Barack) Obama, his movement: There are a lot of young people that were involved, especially within the rapper community, all types of music, sports. A lot of people had a lot to do with Obama, so that was a lot the reason he got elected.”

Bennett was asked if he might have a future in politics himself.

“No, I don’t have time for it,” he said. “Too many daughters.”

LYNCH CLOCK TICKING

Running back Marshawn Lynch is continuing to work his way back from his Nov. 25 abdominal surgery away from the Seahawks’ training facility.

Coach Pete Carroll said Lynch is making progress, but he won’t be available this week. And Carroll admitted the team doesn’t know whether Lynch will be back for the regular season finale next weekend at Arizona.

However, he said there is “a chance” Lynch will be back for the playoffs.

“It’s possible for him to return,” Carroll said. “Fortunately, we’re going to play longer, and the more we do that, the better off his chances to get back.”

Other injury news was more encouraging. Carroll implied offensive tackle Russell Okung (calf) and safety Kam Chancellor (pelvis) could be ready by Sunday.

“(Chancellor) is optimistic,” Carroll said. “He wants to try to get back to play this week. … We won’t know (about Okung) unless we define something really clearly on Friday. I think we’ll go all the way to game time.”

Lynch, Chancellor and Okung were among eight players who didn’t practice Wednesday, along with receiver Doug Baldwin (hamstring), tight end Anthony McCoy (knee/ankle), defensive tackle Jordan Hill (toe), defensive end Avril (rest) and cornerback Jeremy Lane (knee).

Wednesday is a normal rest day for many veterans.

Receiver Jermaine Kearse (calf) was limited, as was Bennett (toe).

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