Seahawks' Bennett sits for national anthem in preseason opener
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett remained seated for the national anthem during their preseason opener with the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Bennett has been a vocal supporter of Colin Kaepernick, who sat during the anthem before a preseason game for the San Francisco 49ers last year and knelt for the anthem for the entire 2016 season in protest of what he viewed as oppression "of black people and people of colour" in the United States.
And Bennett reportedly now plans to sit for the anthem for the entirety of the 2017 season.
His actions come after former Seahawk team-mate Marshawn Lynch sat during the anthem prior to the Oakland Raiders exhibition clash with the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, though he claims he has been doing so for 11 years.
"I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message ... of how unselfish you can be as a society," Bennett said after the Seahawks' 48-17 win.
"How we can continuously love one another and understand that people are different; and just because they're different, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't like them. Because they don't smell the way you smell and they don't eat what you eat, because they don't pray to the same god that you pray to, doesn't mean that you should hate them.
"Whether it's Muslim or Buddhists or Christianity, whatever it is, I just want people to understand that no matter what we're in this thing together. It's more about being a human being at this point."
Bennett said his decision had been influenced by violence between white supremacists and anti-fascist protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia.
He added: "Charlottesville had a lot to do with it but I think it's just the journey of who I am as a person. I think everybody has a time where they feel like they need to be who they are and stand up for what they believe in."
On the reaction he expects to receive, Bennett added: "Of course I'm going to face a backlash. This is bigger than me. This is bigger than football. This is bigger than anything that we have any different.
"This is about people. This is about bringing opportunities to people, giving people equality. This is bigger than a sport."