The union representing Las Vegas policemen and women asked the NFL to investigate Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett “for making false accusations against our police officers.”
Thursday night, the NFL said no.
The unusual call Thursday morning from the police union came one day after Bennett said officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department “singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man at the wrong place at the wrong time” outside a casino in that city on Aug. 27.
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The NFL does not usually get into the realm of investigating one of its players on allegations by a third-party that one of its player’s words have defamed a law-enforcement officer or agency. The league and commissioner Roger Goodell do have a wide-ranging personal-conduct policy they have enforced on players with fines and suspensions in recent seasons. But this would have largely been new territory for the NFL if it were to act on the request of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro, Inc.
Wednesday, Goodell and the league didn’t sound like they would be interested in investigating Bennett for anything. They issued this statement, which was also unusual in its praise for a player that at times has been outspoken against and critical of the league.
And by Thursday evening, a league spokesman confirmed to me via e-mail there will indeed be no investigation the Las Vegas police union wants.
“There is no allegation of a violation of the league's personal conduct policy and therefore there is no basis for an NFL investigation," NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy wrote.
Finally, something the league office and its players’ union agree on.
“I applaud Roger joining me in issuing a statement of support for Michael Bennett, but there are no grounds for the NFL to investigate our union rep and I look forward to Roger confirming the same,” NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said in his own statement Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks – particularly their biggest stars – continue to rally behind their Pro Bowl sack man.
Quarterback Russell Wilson on Thursday called what Bennett experienced in Las Vegas “heartbreaking.” Wilson said he had Bennett, his wife Pele and their daughters over to the quarterback and his music-star wife Ciara’s home after the incident.
Asked about the Las Vegas police union wanting the NFL to punish Bennett, Wilson said: “I don’t know the ins and outs of that. I don’t really know how to address it.
“I’m not sure what they are trying to punish him for.”
Wilson quickly dismissed the idea Bennett’s situation may perhaps be sidetracking the Seahawks from their task Sunday in the opening game of the 2017 season at Green Bay.
The face of Seattle’s franchise spoke much more at length about what Bennett’s incident means to him.
“No, I don’t think it’s a distraction,” Wilson said. “I think it’s, when you see a person that you love, a person that’s your friend, a person – anybody, honestly – that’s put in the position the way Michael was, it’s a matter of life or death, potentially. All those situations that you see. A lot of things are happening in our country right now, that, you know, it’s heartbreaking.
“Michael talked about (thinking about) his kids (while being face down at gun point). I think about my kids. Think about your kids, anybody’s kids. Having to deal with that, you know, there’s no excuse for that. We have to find a way to come together, you know. I always say this but I really believe this: it’s about loving the people that you are around, loving others that look different than you, and finding a way to find peace in turmoil.”
Wilson then made a reference that fixing this aspect of society goes all the way to Washington, D.C., and The White House.
“It has to start with the people who help lead our country, the people who lead certain situations in certain places, and that’s where it starts. I think more than anything else we have to find ways to come together, because it’s a sad time right now.
“You think about, somebody you get to play football with every day and you see the emotion and the tears in his eyes, the feeling of his family coming over to our house and it could have been even worse than it was – and it already is bad. It’s heartbreaking.”
Pro Bowl wide receiver Doug Baldwin said Bennett sought the advice of him and three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman on how the handle his situation, including when and if to go public with his story.
The Seahawks see Bennett’s situation as a continuation – albeit a more traumatic incident – of what many of themselves have experienced. To that end, Baldwin said he had an overarching goal for our society.
“Be empathetic,” he said. “I think that’s the number-one problem in our society, is not being empathetic. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”
Baldwin said he’s also seen the video TMZ obtained and disseminated on Wednesday of Bennett’s encounter with Las Vegas police.
“It’s scary,” he said.
Wilson also saw the video.
“So to see him on the ground like that, there’s not much more words to say then, it’s terrifying and it’s unacceptable based on the situation,” Wilson said.
“Michael is a good guy. He is a guy that is trying to stand up for something good, trying to stand up for love and bringing people together, not hate. If you know Michael Bennett, he is a person who loves all people and is a person who wants to make the world a better place and he is addressing an issue that is right in the heart of the matter of what we are going through. To see him on the ground like that and to be a person who is standing up for something, but also be on the ground like that too, it’s terrifying.
It’s devastating to even think about.”