GLENDALE, Ariz. This time, Michael Bennett stood for the national anthem.
So did the rest of his defensive linemen. So did the entire Seahawks roster.
For the first time since he began protesting mistreatment of minorities and the need for police reform at the preseason opener in mid-August, Bennett stood during a national anthem at a game. All Seahawks did, after his fellow defensive linemen had joined him in sitting in recent weeks. This time, he and his D-line mates stood with arms locked, side by side.
I caught up to Bennett on a motorized cart in the hallway outside the Seahawks’ locker room at University of Phoenix Stadium after Seattle’s injuries-galore win over Arizona Thursday night. the Pro Bowl defensive end got on the cart with about 10 teammates piled in at all angles because it was too painful for them to walk to the team bus.
“It was to signify that we are all with the military, and that we love them,” Bennett said. “There’s been this narrative that we don’t care about the military. Today, we were honoring the military (during the NFL’s Salute to Service month, which the Cardinals commemorated with a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter outside in front of the stadium and an Army general at midfield for the pregame toss of an Army-unit coin), so we wanted to be able to honor the military.
“I know a lot of people did not expect us to stand. They have this narrative about us that is not true. I have a lot of family that were military (he is the son of a U.S. Navy man). It’s never been about the military. If there is an opportunity to support them and be grateful for what they do, and the sacrifices, we want to be able to do that.”
So will he resume his sitting during the anthem before the Seahawks’ next game, Nov. 20 at home against CenturyLink Field.
“This is Veterans’ Day weekend. And next weekend is Salute to Service (for the Seahawks). I am going to stand up for that game, too, to honor them.”
With that, the cart driver prepared to walk away. Bennett, from the passenger seat he snagged because he was the first Seahawk to commandeer the ride, called for me.
“You are the only one who asked me why I stood,” he said, implying others just wanted to know he locked arms. “Thank you for asking me. I appreciate that.”
Bennett had sat at the bench during the anthem for every one of four preseason games and seven of Seattle’s first eight games of this regular season. The exception was before a game in September at Tennessee, when every Seahawks player stayed in the locker room during it.
Moments earlier, in the locker room while I was running down the Richard Sherman ruptured Achilles story, Bennett said this at his locker:
“Today was the opportunity to stand up for the military and that’s what we wanted to do. We want to show gratitude for the men and women who serve this country. Today was one of those times we were able to show our support for them, what they do for us, how they sacrifice for their families. That’s what it was about.”