Seahawks' Michael Bennett continues protest during national anthem

SEATTLE — Defensive lineman Michael Bennett continued his protest during the national anthem before Friday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bennett sat during the national anthem before each of the Seahawks first three preseason games this year to send a message about racial inequality. He previously told reporters that the deadly clashes between protesters and counter protesters Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, played a role in his decision.

“I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve, and I want to use this platform to continuously push the message of that. It’s more about being a human being at this point,” Bennett told reporters after the Seahawks first preseason game in Los Angeles.

Before last week's game against the Minnesota Vikings, center Justin Britt put his hand on the shoulder of Bennett, who remained seated during the anthem. Britt stood with him again Friday. Cornerback Jeremy Lane also stood by Bennett throughout the anthem last week, and multiple teammates joined him toward the end of the song.

“It was very touching for me, a very emotional moment to have that kind of solidarity from someone like Justin Britt, who’s a known leader in our locker room, and who’s from a different part of America from me,” Bennett said. “To be able to have that solidarity and be able to have somebody who’s behind me and know somebody I really trust, and to be able to see him put everything on the line to support one of his teammates, that was a very special moment, and an emotional moment. For me, it was very touching and I’m very thankful to be able to have somebody in my corner like that, and I’m appreciative of him.”

Britt told reporters he and his wife discussed doing something to support Bennett before last week's game, and Bennett's comments about a white player joining the protest "kind of triggered it in my mind, because I see what's going on, we all do, and we all have choices whether to be an example or be a follower. I always tell kids, ‘Don’t be a follower, be the one they’re following.’ Whether it’s good or bad in some eyes, I feel like I’m just supporting my teammate, supporting why he’s doing it and trying to encourage others.”

Many other NFL players around the league have joined in protest. Most notably, Bennett and Britt's former teammate and current Oakland Raider Marshawn Lynch has remained seated during the national anthem before the Raiders' first two preseason games.

On Monday night, 11 members of the Cleveland Browns knelt in protest during the national anthem before their preseason game against the New York Giants.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to draw attention for his failure to stand during the anthem, although the first time he did so, last preseason, it didn’t get much notice.

Later in the 2016 preseason, he told NFL Media that he was "not going to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

"To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way," he told NFL Media. "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."