Since his arrival to the Dallas Cowboys, Michael Bennett has toed the company line — literally. While he would previously kneel or plant himself on the bench during the playing of the National Anthem, and he still prefers to, the former Pro Bowl defensive end is doing what’s best for business by standing tall on the sideline.
“I feel at this point in my career, if my teammates asked me to do something and I can do it, [I’ll do it],” Bennett recently told Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I know people want [to make it what] they want to. I don’t know what to tell them.”
What flew in Seattle and Philadelphia for Bennett is expressly prohibited in Dallas. The 34-year-old defensive end has long been a proponent of social and racial justice, joining former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick (and several others) in protesting atrocities taking place around the country.
At a time when Kaepernick is back in the news for assumingly trying to get back into the sport, Bennett is fulfilling his end of the agreement he made with Dallas prior to the Oct. 24 trade that sent the ex-Patriot to North Texas: stand for the Star-Spangled Banner, the Cowboys unconditionally stated.
The nuts-and-bolts of that agreement were divulged publicly by owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett in the days following the deal, borderline warning Bennett to compartmentalize his off-field beliefs.
“I’m satisfied that, in Michael, we’ve got a player who knows how we do it here with the Cowboys,” Jones said last month, via the Dallas Morning News.
In two games with the Cowboys, Bennett, a role player, has accumulated six quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a sack across 87 snaps.
He stood, sans defiance, before both games.
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Bennett’s Conviction Remains
Just because he’s barred from taking a knee, just because he can’t physically express his values while employed by Dallas, the fire to fight for what’s right will keep burning in Bennett’s heart.
He explained to Hill that “this doesn’t take away what I have done…and the stances that I took, the death threats I have had on my life.” A man unmoved.
“I have done it all,” said Bennett, who won a Super Bowl with Seattle. “I don’t think it makes me less of a person or makes them less of people. At the end of the day, people get caught into certain things and don’t get caught up into what people are doing to change society. We all are men. We are all trying to figure it out. None of us are finished products when it comes to society.
“I am a black man. I have always said that. I have always stood on what I have believed in every single situation whether it’s with Donald Trump, whether it was with the police, whether it was with police brutality, how women of color have been treated, how much money I have donated to different things, the causes I have stood up with, the people I have stood with. It doesn’t make me less of a person.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL