RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett said that before NFL players and the league can move forward with their conversations about working together on social causes, the issue of Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment must be addressed.
“I think the first step to even being able to even have a conversation is making sure that Colin Kaepernick gets an opportunity to play in the NFL,” Bennett said Wednesday. “I think before we even negotiate anything about whether we sit, whether we stand [during the national anthem], it should be a negotiation about opening up the doors for Colin Kaepernick and giving him an opportunity again, because I feel like through everything, that’s been lost.
“All of us are having an opportunity to be able to speak to our employers, but to think about the guy who started everything not to be able to have a voice at this moment, it just doesn’t seem very right to me.”
Bennett said he spoke with some of the players who attended the NFL meetings on Tuesday in New York; he was unable to be there because the Seahawks were practicing that day. Kaepernick was brought up during the meetings, according to Bennett, but there wasn’t much discussion about him.
“I don’t think we can work alongside of them until we address that issue,” Bennett said. “I think the issue with Kaepernick is the start to a conversation. If they want us to be open to what they want, the dialogue, then that’s something that needs to be on the table right there.”
Bennett and many other players, including Seahawks teammate Richard Sherman, believe that Kaepernick has remained unsigned because of his decision not to stand for the national anthem last season, while he was with the San Francisco 49ers.
“If you look at the quarterbacks playing in the NFL right now, out of the backups, I can’t name one better than him,” Bennett said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that he believes players should stand for the national anthem. Bennett, though, said he plans to resume sitting going forward.
Bennett began sitting for the anthem at the start of the preseason and did so through Seattle’s first two regular-season games. The Seahawks and Tennessee Titans remained in the locker room during the anthem before their game in Week 3, which came two days after President Donald Trump made critical comments about NFL players who protest during the national anthem. Bennett and several other Seattle defensive linemen sat before the team’s game in Week 4, then all the Seahawks stood the following week, which defensive end Frank Clark said was in honor of the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.
Bennett was critical of the stance taken recently by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said any of his players who don’t stand for the anthem will not play. Bennett called that “crazy” and “inconsiderate of a person being a human being.”
“It reminded me of the Dred Scott case: You’re property, so you don’t have the ability to be a person first,” Bennett said. “I think that in this generation, I think that sends the wrong message to young kids and young people all across the world that your employer doesn’t see you as a human being, they see you as a piece of property, and if that’s the case, then I don’t get it. I just don’t get why you don’t see us as human beings first.”