Anthem-protesting Michael Bennett gets support from Seahawks teammates

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Seattle Seahawks center Justin Britt (68), and cornerback Jeremy Lane (20) stand near defensive end Michael Bennett (72) as Bennett sits on the bench during the national anthem before the team’s NFL football preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund) ORG XMIT: SEA106

SEATTLE (AP) — Michael Bennett was alone in sitting. He wasn’t alone in support from his teammates.

Bennett sat on the Seahawks’ bench before Friday night’s preseason game against Minnesota, the second straight week he remained seated while “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played.

Bennett was the only Seattle player on the bench, but he was joined by two teammates standing with him. Center Justin Britt stood alongside with his hand on Bennett’s shoulder. Defensive back Jeremy Lane also stood next to Bennett. Lane sat for the national anthem during one preseason game last year.

“It was something me and my wife talked about and discussed. We both wanted to show support to Mike,” Britt said. “I talked to him before, made sure it was all right with him, and of course it was. I feel like what I did, I believe in it. I’m going to continue to educate myself and try to understand why things are going wrong.”

Bennett said after last Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers that the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, including the death of a woman who was struck by a car deliberately driven into a group of counter-protesters, solidified his decision.

Bennett has received support from his teammates and the Seahawks organization. Coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week he believes players should stand for the anthem but supported Bennett.

Carroll was even more effusive of Britt’s willingness to show support for his teammate, especially after Bennett suggested this week that the statement he was hoping to make would gain support if white players joined him.

“It’s absolutely imperative that guys from both sides of the fence come together and learn and be open and support and these guys are going to show you that,” Carroll said. “They’re working at it. They understand there are issues and concerns that we have difficulty talking about but I know our team is working at it and they’re determined to make things better by the way they share their own connection.”

Britt said he may consider sitting with Bennett in the future, but for now plans to continue standing with his teammate during the anthem.

“It was very touching for me, a very emotional moment to have that kind of solidarity from someone like Justin Britt. … To be able to have that solidarity and be able to have somebody who is behind me and somebody who I really trust and to be able to see him put everything on the line to support one of his teammates was a very special moment,” Bennett said.

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