Ex-Seattle Seahawks DE Bennett: Goodell's Black Lives Matter apology is 'slap in the face'
Former Seattle Seahawks star Michael Bennett slammed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s video message showing solidarity with players and condemning systemic racism against Black people, saying that Goodell’s utterance of Black Lives Matter is a “slap in the face” considering what he perceives as hypocrisy on the part of the league.
“(Goodell) saying that Black Lives Matter is almost like a slap in the face,” Bennett told The Daily Beast in a story published last Friday. “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.”
Several Black NFL stars earlier this month collaborated for a video criticizing the NFL’s initial statement in response to the death of George Floyd and challenged the league to take a stiffer stance in denouncing racial oppression. Within a day, the NFL released a video of Goodell repeating many of the players’ words verbatim and admitting that the league was wrong for not listening to players who protested said causes by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. The league also committed $250 million over a 10-year span to causes combating racial injustice.
But many observers have still been critical of the NFL, claiming the league is more concerned with saving face than putting real action behind their words. The league, critics say, is just following the shift in narrative in recent weeks that shows public favor of the Black Lives Matter movement and player protests.
The silence of owners on recent conversations surrounding racism has also been noted, and Colin Kaepernick — the player who brought the issues of racial oppression to the league’s forefront by kneeling during the 2016 season — is still out of a job. The former 49ers star was blackballed out of the NFL because he was “bad for business,” the league’s former VP of communications and government affairs confirmed in a recent CNN Op-Ed. There was no mention of Kaepernick in Goodell’s video.
Bennett challenged the sincerity of Goodell’s video and the league’s overall response to the outcries about systemic racism.
“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 told The Daily Beast. “We have to continuously push the NFL to change its core values and change its moral compass on a consistent basis. If not, shame on us and shame us for real. We have the opportunity to hold Roger Goodell and the rest of the bosses (to account).”
Bennett, 34, has long been outspoken on racial justice and police brutality, dating back to his time with the Seahawks.
Bennett, who helped lead the team to consecutive Super Bowl trips as part of the legendary Legion of Boom defense, saw all three of his Pro-Bowl nods come with the team (2013-17). Bennett was initially signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2009, but never appeared in a game in his first stint.
Bennett is currently a free agent. He played with the Patriots and the Cowboys last season.
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Ben Arthur covers sports for SeattlePI. He can be reached by email at @benyarthur.