Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennett compared the NFL team owners who require players to stand during the U.S. national anthem to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, the ruling that classified enslaved African-Americans as “property.”
“I plan on sitting down,” Bennett said Wednesday, KING5 reported. “Like I said, I continue to do what I’ve been doing and the consequences are the consequences I guess.”
It comes after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he would like players to stand for the anthem, adding that he intends to get the “half-dozen players” who kneel for the anthem to stand. The league, however, said that it will not require players to stand.
Then, Bennett—who signed a four-year deal with the Seahawks that’s worth $28.5 million—made a comparison to the Dred Scott case in 1857 that paved the way to the American Civil War.
“If teams don’t want guys to play, even if you think about what Jerry Jones said. It’s crazy,” Bennett said. “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.”
According to ESPN, he said that the Colin Kaepernick, the ex-49ers quarterback who started the anthem protests, and his unemployment should be addressed by the league.
“I think the first step to even being able to even have a conversation is making sure that Colin Kaepernick gets an opportunity to play in the NFL,” Bennett said. “I think before we even negotiate anything about whether we sit, whether we stand [during the national anthem], it should be a negotiation about opening up the doors for Colin Kaepernick and giving him an opportunity again, because I feel like through everything, that’s been lost.”
As Reuters reported, Goodell made clear he will take a more patient approach than the one urged by the president. Rather than using discipline, the league will continue to nurture players’ efforts to fight racial disparities in the criminal justice system, believing this would make the urge to protest fade.
“We have about six or seven players that are involved in this protest at this point,” Goodell told reporters after a two-day meeting with team owners and the players’ labor union in New York City, saying he hoped that number would eventually be zero. “What we’re trying to do is deal with the underlying issue and understand what it is they’re protesting.”
The commissioner cited bail reform and ending mandatory sentences as justice topics of concern for players.
President Donald Trump criticized the NFL and its executives over the move.“Too much talk, not enough action,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to the NFL, “Stand for the National Anthem.”