NFL player Michael Bennett says team owners can't support both Trump and BLM: 'That's null and void'
The three-time Pro Bowl defensive end questioned NFL's sudden support for social activism
National Football League (NFL) free agent Michael Bennett, on Friday, June 12, said that league team owners cannot honestly support President Donald Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement simultaneously. Bennet, a social activist and three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, spoke on NFL's sudden support for social activism and said that the team owners' support is void if they continue to back Trump who has continually denounced the BLM movement.
Bennet made the statement while talking to the Daily Beast. "If you're supporting him, then your letter is really null and void," he said referring to Trump and the NFL statement in support of BLM.
Reports state that at least eight NFL team owners had donated a total of $8 million to Trump's inaugural fund in 2016. The current owner of New York Jets, Woody Johnson, the billionaire grandson of Johnson & Johnson's founder, had also raised campaign money for Trump and is currently serving as the US ambassador to the United Kingdom. Stephen Ross, the owner of Miami Dolphins, has also hosted multiple Trump fundraisers while Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots owner, has called Trump his longtime friend and had donated to his record-setting $107 million inaugural funds.
Trump has denounced some of the NFL players' movement, initiated by Colin Kaepernick in 2016, to protest police brutality and racism and had called on NFL owners to fire any "son of a b****" who kneeled in the protest during the national anthem. The Republican first slammed the BLM movement in 2015 while telling then-Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, "I think they're looking for trouble."
The NFL, however, in the wake of George Floyd's killing in police custody and massive demonstrations against police brutality and racism, pledged to donate $250 million over a 10-year period to fight systemic racism across the country. The move from NFL came after a group of high-profile NFL players compiled a video demanding the league to release a statement condemning racism and admit to silencing players like Kaepernick from peacefully protesting. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, after the release of the players' video, stated that the league was wrong to oppose Kaepernick's kneeling protest.
Goodell's apology, however, rang hollow to Bennett, who said: "[Goodell] saying that black lives matter is almost like a slap in the face. 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.
"Is the intent of the NFL to really make a positive impact or is it not to be seen as if they don't respect the players?" Bennett continued. "We have to continuously push the NFL to change its core values and change its moral compass on a consistent basis."
Kaepernick hasn’t played a down since opting out of his contract in 2016, the same year the quarterback began his protest when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. The player stirred a national controversy in an effort to protest police brutality in the country. After Kaepernick's movement received criticism from Trump, the NFL, in 2017, announced a rule which required all the players to stand during the national anthem. The association, however, gave an option to the players to stand off the field until the ceremony was over instead of kneeling outside.
Amid the George Floyd protests, at least one NFL team owner, the Ravens' Steve Bisciotti, released a statement, saying he would continue to be committed to protesting alongside his players. The Ravens released a video, where many of its players, coach John Harbaugh, and Bisciotti voiced their support for the BLM movement.
You can watch the video here:
Ravens united.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) June 12, 2020
Black Lives Matter. pic.twitter.com/3KAl3dFSrQ
"Ask the questions, ask the uncomfortable questions," Bisciotti told viewers, "and you will come to the conclusion — I hope — that I have, that you don't feel it enough, and that you don't live it enough if you're not willing to say it: Black Lives Matter. If my players, both white and black, don't speak out about this injustice to their communities, then they're considered sellouts or hypocrites. If I don't defend my players, then I'm the worst kind of hypocrite."