NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear on Wednesday that he would like the league’s players to stand during the national anthem. He said that he intends to get the “half-dozen players” who continue to kneel for the national anthem down to zero.
However, no league mandate has been made at this time to discipline or not discipline players who choose to sit.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who pledged to remain seated during the national anthem all season in protest of racial and social injustices, says that despite Goodell’s request, he will stay seated during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” on Sundays.
“I plan on sitting down,” Bennett said in a press conference on Wednesday. “Like I said, I continue to do what I’ve been doing and the consequences are the consequences I guess.”
The Pro Bowl defensive end also took a jab at owners who require their players to stand during the anthem, specifically referencing Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who told his players that if they choose to sit during the anthem, they will not play.
Bennett compared the NFL players’ situation with the league to the Dred Scott case, where the Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that slaves or descendants of American slaves could not become citizens of the United States and remained the property of their owners.
“If teams don’t want guys to play, even if you think about what Jerry Jones said. It’s crazy,” Bennett continued. “It’s inconsiderate of a person being a human being. To me, just the thought it reminded me of the Dred Scott case. You’re property, so you don’t have the ability to be a person first. And I think in this generation that sends the wrong message to young kids and young people across the world, that your employer doesn’t see you as a human being. They see you as a piece of property.”
Bennett has been one of the NFL’s players at the forefront of the anthem protest movement.
He began sitting during the anthem on Aug. 13 of the preseason and continued to do so until Week 5, when the Seahawks played the Rams in Los Angeles. Bennett said following the 16-10 win that he chose to temporarily stand to show respect to the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.
He is also one of four players who wrote a 10-page “call to action” memo to the NFL earlier this season urging the league to formally recognize inequality of minorities and the need for police reform nationwide.
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