Sunday, September 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Charlottesville reinforces ex-Bucs DE Bennett's decision to sit during national anthem (w/video)

CARSON, Calif. — Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said Sunday he will sit during the national anthem this season to protest social injustice and segregation.

Bennett, who was with the Tampa Bay Bucs from 2009-12, sat on the visiting bench during The Star-Spangled Banner before the Seahawks' preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams, a decision he made prior to protests by white supremacists at the University of Virginia over the weekend. But what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, including the death of a young woman when she was struck by a car deliberately driven into a group of counter-protesters on Saturday, solidified Bennett's decision.

"With everything that's been going on the last couple of months and especially after the last couple of days, seeing everything in Virginia, seeing what's going on out there earlier today in Seattle, I just wanted to be able to use my platform to be able to continue to speak over injustice," Bennett said.

"First of all, I want people to understand I love the military. My father was in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American, but I don't love segregation. I don't love riots. I don't love oppression. I don't love gender slander. I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve, and I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message of that, you know, and keep journeying out and keep finding out how unselfish can we be as a society."

Bennett was at least the third prominent NFL player to protest during the anthem in the first full week of preseason games. Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, a former teammate of Bennett's in Seattle, also sat during the anthem. Los Angeles Rams defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist, continuing his approach from last season following then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the anthem.

Kaepernick is a free agent, and the controversy over his decision to protest the anthem and the form he used has not quelled, even as he remains unsigned.

Bennett said he is willing to deal with similar fallout.

"Of course I'm going to face backlash," Bennett said. "This is bigger than me. This is bigger than football. This is bigger than anything that we have. This is about people. This is about bringing opportunities to people, giving people equality. This is bigger than a sport."

Bennett said he had spoken to several other NFL players about possible protests, but had not talked with Lynch yet. While he acknowledged the possibility of more widespread and formally organized protests happening later, Bennett wanted to express himself.

"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," Bennett said.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did not have a response to Bennett's actions, saying he only became aware of it after the game.

Bennett said the aim of his protest is to make people uncomfortable. In the process, he hopes to spur greater communication, understanding and involvement across racial, gender and socio-economic lines.

"Everyone is in their comfort zone right now," Bennett said. "Get out there and become uncomfortable. Go out there and see what it's like out there in society right now."

 

Comments
Bucs Ring of Honor: Tony Dungy, the wise man who ‘learns from everybody’

Bucs Ring of Honor: Tony Dungy, the wise man who ‘learns from everybody’

TAMPA — At the pancake house, a couple sat in the next booth over. They recognized the voice. That voice. Brenda and Charlie Rivas asked to take a picture. Snap. They walked away on air. The server reappeared. She had to ask. Two of her tables ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Steelers: The stage is set again for Mr. Monday Night

Bucs-Steelers: The stage is set again for Mr. Monday Night

TAMPA — At this stage in his career, DeSean Jackson is a celebrity who plays football. Movie producer, actor, host of the self-named One on One podcast and quarterback fashion coordinator – he does it all. But Jackson may do his best work...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide to Steelers-Buccaneers: Where is Ronald Jones?

Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide to Steelers-Buccaneers: Where is Ronald Jones?

One of the dominant storylines heading into Monday Night Football between the first-place Buccaneers and the last-place Steelers will be the things we didn’t expect to see. It’s the team that usually melts down against the team that actua...
Updated: 6 hours ago
McFarland on FitzMagic: ‘Play the guy with the hot hand’

McFarland on FitzMagic: ‘Play the guy with the hot hand’

TAMPA — Why wait until Monday Night Football? We got former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland, the field analyst for the ESPN crew, to break down the Bucs-Steelers matchup. In his straight-forward, brutally honest style, McFarland dissects...
Updated: 11 hours ago
How Booger McFarland rose from a Tampa FM station to ‘Monday Night Football’

How Booger McFarland rose from a Tampa FM station to ‘Monday Night Football’

TAMPA — When Booger McFarland auditioned for the new Monday Night Football broadcast team, producer Jay Rothman was blown away."I closed my eyes and said, 'Holy (bleep), I feel like I'm listening to football's Charles Barkley,'' Rothman said.Si...
Published: 09/22/18
Bucs have to be ‘reasonable,’ about their plan to play defensive tackle Vita Vea

Bucs have to be ‘reasonable,’ about their plan to play defensive tackle Vita Vea

Defensive tackle Vita Vea made it through practice this week, his first since straining his left calf muscle July 29. But coach Dirk Koetter was pretty non-committal about how much, or if, Vea will play Monday night against the Steelers."When you've ...
Published: 09/22/18

How Tampa Bay is savoring its FitzMagic carpet ride

TAMPA — Bucs fan Dallas Collins has it all planned out.On Monday night, he and his family are going to whip up an Irish Boiled Dinner. You know, corned beef, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and onions.Then they're going to sit down and watch the Buc...
Published: 09/22/18
Bucs PK Chandler Catanzaro insists he’s curse-free

Bucs PK Chandler Catanzaro insists he’s curse-free

TAMPA — When placekicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter at New Orleans and a point-after attempt last week against the Eagles, he left the door open for a possible comeback by the Saints and Eagles.The Bucs...
Published: 09/21/18
Ryan Fitzpatrick said his only goal was to go 3-0 while Jameis Winston was suspended

Ryan Fitzpatrick said his only goal was to go 3-0 while Jameis Winston was suspended

TAMPA — Shortly after he learned he would be starting the first three games this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick saw the opportunity to do something few thought would be possible.No, not take Jameis Winston's job.The Bucs starting quarterback was susp...
Published: 09/21/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs-Steelers, Vita Vea, Rays’ playoff chances, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs-Steelers, Vita Vea, Rays’ playoff chances, more

It's our mailbag episode, with questions about how many games the Bucs can win this season, the reason for their offensive explosion and what we can expect from Vita Vea this week against the Steelers.Plus, what moves should the Rays make this offsea...
Published: 09/21/18