Duane Burleson/Associated Press
Speaking to Robert Silverman of The Daily Beast, Bennett said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent video statement “saying that black lives matter is almost like a slap in the face” because “black talent has been exploited at a high level in the NFL.”
Bennett also called on players to hold team owners who support Donald Trump accountable for their hypocrisy: “If you’re supporting him, then your letter is really null and void.”
In September 2017, USA Today‘s Steve Berkowitz noted nine NFL owners donated $7,350,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee.
A number of NFL teams have released statements condemning racism and supporting the right to peacefully protest, but owners have been questioned for their public silence as players continue to speak out about the need for systemic change in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle that he would like to hear owners make their voices heard given everything going on in the country.
“It’s not pulling them like it is the rest of the country,” Sherman said. “Because if it was, then they’d speak. Jerry Jones, especially, has no problem speaking up any other time about anything else. But when it’s such a serious issue, and he could really make a huge impact on it with a few words, his silence speaks volumes.”
Trump has spoken out against NFL players’ protests during the national anthem. At a September 2017 rally in Alabama, he told the crowd that team owners should “get that son of a b—h off the field right now.”
After Goodell’s video statement released last week, Trump tweeted June 7 that the commissioner was “intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?”
Bennett has been an outspoken advocate for social justice and political reform throughout his career. He wrote an article for the Players’ Tribune in March 2017 in support of the women’s strike on International Women’s Day.
In March 2019, Bennett took part in a conversation at Princeton to discuss the NFL’s relationship to race in the United States.