Michael and Martellus Bennett are very similar people in the way in which they express themselves. So it was no surprise to see the latter show his support for the former’s decision to remain seated during the national anthem prior to the Seattle Seahawks preseason opener on Sunday.
“I think he’s very well educated on what he wants to happen in the world and what he’s trying to communicate,” Martellus Bennett said Tuesday of his brother, a defensive end for the Seahawks. “I think he does an awesome job and I love him to death. I think he’s very courageous in the position he’s in and the things he says.”
Michael Bennett’s decision to sit came a year after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first drew criticism for sitting during the anthem as a way to protest what he viewed as the oppression of people of color in the United States. And more timely, Bennett’s display came a day after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent, resulting in the death of one counter protestor and more than 30 injuries to others in attendance.
On Monday, former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley posted, in a tweet that has since been deleted, that athletes are role models that should leave personal opinions about race and politics alone. Essentially, be quiet and play the game. Martellus Bennett, the Packers current tight end, was not OK with that.LISTEN: Martellus Bennett addresses the media following Tuesday’s practice
“He says we should be role models, but what role is he modeling? It’s like saying you’re a doctor and have no opinion. You’re a teacher, you have no opinion,” said Bennett, who signed with the Packers in the offseason. “You’re a truck driver. We don’t care what you have to say. Or you’re a reporter, why are you writing something about politics? You should stick to sports. It makes no sense.
“I don’t know what his intentions were, but I think there’s a lot of bad information just programmed [into us]. Guys have been programmed for so long that we have to re-program the youth so that they can think differently.
“I worry about the world and the country and the state we are in, not so much for myself, because I feel liked I’m already (expletive), but more for my daughter and my kids. I want to better the future for her so she doesn’t have to go through what we’re going through. There’s a lot of stuff that is repeating itself that shouldn’t. It’s 2017. I shouldn’t have to worry about guys with lynch mobs in Virginia. I should be flying a (expletive) car right now. What the hell?”
Asked if he might follow in his brother’s footsteps and stay seated on Saturday during the national anthem in Washington D.C., Bennett wasn’t willing to say one way or the other.
“I’m more of an in-the-moment type guy,” he said. “I don’t pre-plan anything like that. If it happens, it happens.”