Colin Kaepernick's much-publicized protest of the national anthem to speak out against police brutality may have cost him the chance to play in the upcoming NFL season. But the controversy hasn't stopped Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch from doing the same in the preseason this month.
Bennett, a Pro Bowl defensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks, sat for the national anthem before the team's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. He told reporters that he plans to do the same for the rest of the season, admitting that he was motivated after this weekend's white supremacist gatherings in Charlottesville.
"Seeing everything in Virginia and stuff that is going on I just wanted to be able to use my platform to continuously speak out on injustice," Bennett said, according to The Seattle Times. While many have seen protesting the anthem as disrespectful to the U.S. military, Bennett said that he loves the military, especially since his father served.
"...I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve and I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message and keep finding out how unselfish we can be in society, how we can continuously love one another and understand that people are different."
Last season, several players came out to support Kaepernick by also protesting the anthem themselves. The Seattle Seahawks all stood and locked arms before one game during the anthem; the team said it was an attempt to show solidarity as a whole, but the move was chastised by many as cowardly and as refusing to truly take a stand. Bennett didn't participate in the team's arm-locked demonstration last season, but he has spoken up about social issues such as police brutality before.
"I'm just doing what I do, and what I think is right. I've dedicated my life to this. This is what I believe in. This is my purpose," he said. "This is what I believe, to change society, to go into communities, doing organic work and just continuing to push the message that things aren't fair."
Bennett's former Seahawks teammate Marshawn Lynch, who came out of retirement to play for the Oakland Raiders, also sat for the national anthem before a preseason game on Saturday. He didn't speak to reporters after the game, but Raiders coach Jack Del Rio told reporters that Lynch said that he has sat during the anthem for 11 years.
Colin Kaepernick became a national news story last NFL season when he sat - and later, kneeled - for the national anthem, saying that he would continue to do so until there was a substantial change toward stopping police brutality in the United States. He has since become one of the most publicist activists and humanitarians in the country, organizing a Know Your Rights Camp for California youth, donating to civil rights and community organizations, and sending an airplane full of food and water to Somalia to help people impacted by famine.