Michael Bennett has spent years fighting for social justice. So when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that “black lives matter” a day after a powerful video from black players urged him to do it, Bennett voiced skepticism.
Bennett, a free agent, called it “almost like a slap in the face.”
Bennett calls Goodell’s comments ‘slap in the face’
“[Goodell] saying that black lives matter is almost like a slap in the face,” Bennett said when reached by phone. For decades, “Black talent has been exploited at a high level in the NFL. He knows black lives matter, because without black players the NFL wouldn’t be as lucrative as it is.”
Goodell’s remarks came less than 24 hours after players released the video. It came two weeks after George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, sparking demonstrations in all 50 states that continue.
And it’s four years after Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, a silent protest to bring awareness to racial inequality and police brutality. The NFL threatened fines for players who decided to kneel, and Kaepernick has been out of the league since.
Bennett: Players have to keep pushing
Bennett advised players to keep pushing for reform, and questioned if the NFL truly wants positive change or just wants to look like it’s on the right side of history. Public support of racial justice reform has grown within the past few weeks and 52 percent of people said it was “OK” for “NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans”, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. It’s a dramatic change from 2016.
“We have to continuously push the NFL to change its core values and change its moral compass on a consistent basis,” he said. “If not, shame on us and shame us for real. We have the opportunity to hold Roger Goodell and the rest of the bosses," including team owners like Jerry Jones he said, to account, and face “the reality of the suppression and oppression of the people.”
The defensive end spent the back end of 2019 season with Jones’ Dallas Cowboys. Jones expects all of his employees to stand for the national anthem, and as part of the his time with the team, Bennett agreed to do so as well. Notably, Jones has been silent in recent weeks. NFL players have not.
Bennett calls out team owners’ support of President Donald Trump
Bennett called out team owners who support President Donald Trump. Eight franchise owners donated a total of $7.25 million to the president’s inauguration festivities in 2017. They include Jones, who gave $1 million through his Gladstone Limited Partnership.
“If you’re supporting him, then your letter is really null and void,” Bennett told the Daily Beast.
Team owners who have given money to Trump watched as their teams put #BlackoutTuesday graphics on social media accounts last week, which turned into a way to take a stand for social justice. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan posted an essay on his team’s site, writing his story and the effects of racism. He was among the group of owners to give money for the inauguration, and last year said he supported Trump.
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