The Seattle Seahawks are training for the upcoming season of the National Football League. And as the players conditioned and strengthened their plays at Saturday’s [July 30] practice, Michael Bennett felt the NFL players were still weak in one area—social action.
The defensive lineman put aside his athletic clothes after practice. He dressed himself in a Black Lives Matter t-shirt and scolded the football players in front of press. Bennett praised the efforts of WNBA and NBA stars, who have been outspoken about racial inequality and police brutality.
Because of football players’ fears of losing sponsorships, he said, “Here in the NFL, the greatest players aren’t in the forefront of the movement.” He wasn’t afraid of naming names like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Cam Newton. The Seahawk pushed the issues as an entire league problem, considering the black majority among rosters. He criticized everyone for “sitting back taking the dollars” while basketball players used their platforms at games, on social media, and at the Espys.
Bennett did not stop at the Black Lives Matter Movement. Within the NFL, key players stray from getting involved in health and labor reforms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement—affecting the benefits and safety measures given through their NFL employment.
He also noted athletes in the past, ones that modern players look up to, were active in creating social change. Bennett asked the NFL to revisit history and honor the ambition of sports icons who took on national and local causes.
He said, “Let’s use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence, and renounce all violence. And most importantly go back to our communities. Invest our time, our resources. Help rebuild them. Help strengthen them.”