RENTON, Wash. - On Sunday, most NFL players opted to protest in a show of unity amid criticism from President Donald Trump, who slammed players opting to protest during the national anthem.
The Seattle Seahawks have found themselves in the center of the national anthem protest controversies after deciding as a team to remain in the locker room before Sunday's loss at the Tennessee Titans.
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Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett joined CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" Monday evening to explain the team's protest, and said he'd like to meet with Trump regard the message behind their protest.
Before kickoff on Sunday the Seahawks released the following statement about their protest:
"As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms."
-The Players of the Seattle Seahawks
“I would love to sit down with the president and talk about these issues and be able to find a way to fix them or be able to find a way to have the voice of the people; the people that don’t have the voice that they’re not listening to,” Bennett told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“I can’t sit here and say that he’s not my president, he’s not that, because at the end of the day he is the president of the United States, and for him to say it’s a privilege and we shouldn’t speak on what we believe in because we’re making money, I mean, he was a rich man, too, and all of a sudden he’s speaking on what he believes in, and he still stood up for what he believes in and he’s the president of the United States, so what makes him different from us?”
Michael Bennett on his team not taking the field during the National Anthem: "We made a decision as a team to stand for what we believe in" pic.twitter.com/nsjAqrVBYQ— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) September 26, 2017
At a rally in Alabama on Friday Trump said, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired," to loud applause.
Before Friday's remarks, Bennett was one of only a handful of NFL players to stage a protest during the national anthem, beginning with the team's first preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 13.
Following the president's comments, more than 200 NFL players staged a protest during the national anthem before games on Sunday and Monday. The Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers, other than offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, all chose to remain in the locker room during the national anthem.
Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin also appeared on CNN Monday evening to explain the message behind the team's protest.
“I’m a firm believer that you have to stand or sit for what you believe,” Baldwin said. “That’s what makes our country great.”
Seattle Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin: If you see oppression when you look at the flag, “then stand up and do something about it” pic.twitter.com/rvwbwXtXlw— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) September 25, 2017
“If you see the flag; and you see oppression when you look at the flag, then stand up. Do something about it. I think what we’re misinterpreting is the people taking a knee; that feel the need to protest, that’s exactly what they’re doing. They are being courageous -- they are putting themselves out there and being vulnerable.”
On Tuesday, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll also joined CNN to discuss the message behind the team's protest during the national anthem.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: Players' National Anthem protest has "nothing to do" with the flag https://t.co/eB3ldFqbMM— CNN (@CNN) September 27, 2017
Carroll went on to say:
Whether it’s seen on the field or off the field, are so active in our community and they are so driven. The last thing they want to do is be offensive to the country, the flag, the military. They stand absolutely in total support. They understand that. They know what they’re doing and they wanted to make sure and start the dialogue and start the messaging and then work to a greater opportunity that’s coming because of the protest that has taken place.
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