RENTON For years, Michael Bennett has had a famous sack dance: Comic, slightly risque hip swirls and thrusts.
“Two pumps gets you a baby,” he said late last season, “three pumps gets you a fine.”
Now, Bennett’s purpose is far more serious, pointed and symbolic.
After the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl defensive end sacked San Francisco’s Brian Hoyer Sunday, Bennett stood up in the middle of the field and faced the Seahawks’ bench with both feet together. He then extended his arm toward the gray Seattle sky and raised a black-gloved fist.
It was the first time Bennett had done that. It was noticeably reminiscent of the “Black Power” salutes National Track and Field Hall of Famers Tommie Smith and John Carlos did in their United States national team uniforms, also with raised, black-gloved fists, during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
It is believed to be the first time an NFL player has brought an act that, as Bennett states, “unity and solidarity with oppressed peoples” onto the field during play.
For five games beginning with Seattle’s preseason opener last month, Bennett has sat during the national anthem just before games. It is his way to draw attention to how minorities are mistreated in this country.
Before Sunday’s 12-9 victory over the 49ers Bennett again sat on the Seahawks’ bench during the anthem, which Pearl Jam founding member Mike McCready jammed on his guitar at CenturyLink Field.
Teammates Justin Britt, a prominent white Seahawks player, and Thomas Rawls stood on either side of the seated Bennett in a show of support. Britt’s been doing that since the second preseason game. Fellow defensive ends Cliff Avril and Frank Clark sat on the bench near Bennett just before McCready finished playing Sunday’s anthem. Avril also did that during the anthem before the season opener at Green Bay the previous weekend.
Bennett played his second game since going public with accusations of mistreatment by Las Vegas police responding to a call of an active shooter inside a casino there on Aug. 27. Video of the incident shows an officer pointing a gun near Bennett’s head while Bennett was face down on pavement outside the casino. Bennett says the officer threatened to “blow my (expletive) head off.” The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department deny Bennett’s accusations, and its police union asked the NFL to punish Bennett for false claims.
The league refused. Commissioner Roger Goodell said “Michael Bennett represents the best of the NFL.”
Bennett had a sack in the opener Sept. 10 at Green Bay. After that play he did one hip twirl.