Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett abandoned his national anthem protest to stand before the Salute For Service game Thursday night.
Bennett, who has been one of the main social justice advocates in the NFL, chose to stand for the Star Spangled Banner before the Seahawks played the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, a move which didn’t go unnoticed.
The longtime protester linked arms with his fellow players to show respect to the brave men and women fighting for our freedom.
— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) November 10, 2017
Bennett hinted on Wednesday that he might stand for the anthem to show respect. His father, a Navy veteran, has expressed solidarity with his son and his protest for criminal justice.
“I joined the military so people like Michael and Martellus and whoever else out there can take a knee or make a stand, peacefully, and get their point across and not be ridiculed,” Bennett Sr told Sports Illustrated in September. “I lose all respect for people if you really can’t see what’s going on in your own country that you live in every day. People don’t care about people. They care about animals and they care about people that look like they look.”
Although some people believe Bennett’s decision to stand in support of the troops is proof that the protests are not disrespectful towards veterans, others are not so sure.
This is just more proof. If he really thought his kneeling was not disrespectful, then why not kneel tonight?
— Rob George (@RobGeor11293378) November 10, 2017
It's a fucking sports game. It doesn't matter what it's about. Get it the hell out if sports!
— Ginger Snap (@RedheadAndRight) November 10, 2017
Glad he stood tonight. But in my opinion, if they really wanted to support the military, they would stand for anthem every week, and find a different way to protest social injustice. During the anthem just isn’t the right time for that.
— Brad Pecoraro 🇺🇸 (@b_pecoraro) November 10, 2017
depends. what was his comment about lying about being threatened at gunpoint by the police?
— Cafe Amphibian (@Cafe_Amphibian) November 10, 2017
Respectful or not, the protests are still doing no favors for the NFL’s ratings.
Ratings are currently down 5.5 percent after the first nine weeks of the season compared to 2016. This is especially worrying for the NFL considering it can’t use the presidential election to excuse bad ratings like it could last year.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell actually acknowledged the impact anthem protests are making.
“People come to our stadiums to be entertained and have fun,” he noted, “not to be protested to.”
“I think that’s one of the things I think when we have a platform the way we do, people seek to find that division and I think that’s something we try to resist,” he explained while speaking of the protests. “And in this case, I’ve been very clear about this — the anthem, the respect for our flag is very important. So, I want to see our players stand.”
At this point, the protesting players should not only think about respecting the flag and the anthem, they should also think about respecting their fans and the NFL by choosing a different method and time to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Featured Image Via Wikimedia Commons