What Michael Bennett said after he talked Saturday about his wish to be a Seahawk for life spoke more loudly than anything else.
Seattle’s Pro Bowl defensive end called out Cam Newton — though I’m not quite sure why — plus Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and other NFL stars for allegedly not being active and outspoken on issues in our society, including race.
Bennett talked after the Seahawks’ first practice of training camp while wearing a "Black Lives Matter" T-shirt. He talked about that issue far more than his contract one.
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He spoke at length about his belief athletes should take stronger social stands.
"Yeah, we talk about it all the time," Bennett said of the Seahawks’ locker room. "But, I mean, it’s just one of those things where eventually we’ll have to get together as a whole sports community. Because at the end of the day, athletes have a brand and we control what is sold in America…whether it’s shoes, clothes, whatever, a drink, soda, food. Athletes hold the key to what people want.
"So as athletes we need to start controlling that influence and keep it positive and not always about dollar to dollar. Finding a way to make it something sustainable so when we’re in the community, make the sustainable event…not so much about money."
Bennett got to the heart of why most pro athletes have been reluctant in the past to speak out on social issues in our country.
He also applauded recent, controversial stands by WNBA basketball players in Minnesota in the wake of recent racially charged shootings by and of police across America.
"If we really want to be a great influence…you can’t really worry about the marketing dollars behind you, because brands control everything," he said. "The women in the WNBA have really stood up for what they want, and I think it’s time for players in the NFL.
"You know, most of the players in the NFL are black…but a lot of things in the NFL are so broken. You don’t see a lot of great players talking about things socially, whether it’s Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, all these guys, they’re white. They don’t have to deal with things that we deal with these things as the black players, so there are not as many as in the NBA, where everybody is standing up for it. … Here in the NFL, the greatest players aren’t in the forefront of the movement.
"Our great players are just sitting back, taking the dollars – whether it’s Cam Newton, all these guys. They aren’t really on the forefront of trying to change what’s going on."
Asked why he thought that was, Bennett said: "A lot players are really trying to get on Nike commercials and trying to do all this stuff. But at the end of the day, players, we have to realize that we control everything…
"Players have more control over everything that’s going on, socially and things like that."