Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Michael Bennett said he was standing for the national anthem at the request of his new teammates and not because of a reported “deal” with team owner Jerry Jones.
Bennett, who stood for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a game two weeks ago against the New York Giants and again Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Monday why he decided to stand for the anthem after not doing so since 2016.
“I feel at this point in my career if my teammates asked me to do something and I can do it,” Bennett said. “I know people want make it what it what they want to. I don’t know what to tell them.”
The Cowboys acquired Bennett in a midseason trade from the New England Patriots and reportedly “reached an understanding” with the organization about standing for the anthem.
Bennet told the Star-Telegram that he heard the criticisms over his decision to stand up now, but explained that he was still focused on spreading awareness about racial injustices in the U.S. He reportedly is planning on teaching a class on racism at an Ivy League school.
“This is doesn’t take away what I have done ... and the stances that I took, the death threats I have had on my life. I have done it all,” he told the newspaper. ”I don’t think it makes me less of a person or makes them less of people. At the end of the day, people get caught into certain things and don’t get caught up into what people are doing to change society. We all are men. We are all trying to figure it out. None of us are finished products when it comes to society.”
He added: “I am a black man. I have always said that. I have always stood on what I have believed in every single situation whether it’s with Donald Trump, whether it was with the police, whether it was with police brutality, how women of color have been treated, how much money I have donated to different things, the causes I have stood up with, the people I have stood with. It doesn’t make me less of a person.”
Bennett has one sack in two games with the Cowboys this season.