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Volume 24 No. 181
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Justin Britt Lends Michael Bennett Hand While He Sits During National Anthem

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett again "sat during the national anthem prior to Seattle’s preseason game against the Vikings Friday night," and C Justin Britt stood next to Bennett with his right hand on Bennett’s left shoulder, according to Bob Condotta of the SEATTLE TIMES. Britt said, "I want to support him. I want to support what he’s standing for and his beliefs. I’m not foolish. I’m from Missouri. I get things are different in that area than it is in some other areas. I’m not against what the flag means and veterans. My dad was in the Army. I’m not putting any disrespect to them. I’m just trying to understand the issues, trying to educate myself more in that regard and showing support." He added, "I wanted to take a first step tonight, and that's what I felt I did." Condotta noted Britt became the "second white player in two days to show support for a black player protesting the anthem" -- Eagles DE Chris Long "stood with an arm around" Eagles CB Malcolm Jenkins on Thursday night. Bennett said, "It was very touching for me, a very emotional moment to have that kind of solidarity from someone like Justin Britt who is a very known leader in our locker room, who is from a different part of America from me. ... I thought that was a very special moment and an emotional moment for me." Condotta noted Seahawks CB Jeremy Lane stood "in front of Bennett with his back to the field," and as the anthem ended, DEs Cliff Avril and Frank Clark "broke from the rest of the team -- standing with arms locked on the sidelines -- to then sit by Bennett on the bench" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/19). Britt said that he will "continue to support Bennet's protest." He added, "I might sit with him if things don't get better, if things don't improve, but right now I'm just gong to continue what I'm doing." He added that he "encourages his teammates to join as well" (SEATTLEPI.com, 8/19).

BETTER TOGETHER: In Seattle, Larry Stone wrote he "liked" what he saw with Britt's gesture and that he "liked what I heard afterward from Britt and Bennett -- sincerity and compassion as they grappled with some heavy issues that are roiling our country." There are "going to be many who reject out of hand any sullying of the anthem," but peaceful dissent is "about as American as it gets." Now, more than ever, there needs to be "genuine, heartfelt dialogue -- even if it’s not easy -- about race relations, inequality, injustice and the like." The inclusion of a white player like Britt "adds poignancy and power to the movement." To have Bennett sit during the anthem "sends a message." To have Britt "embracing Bennett sends a deeper one" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/20). In Pittsburgh, Ron Cook wrote under the header, "It's Tough To Argue With Michael Bennett's Reasons For Protest" (PITTSPURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/20).

TAKE MY HAND: In S.F., Vic Tafur notes Raiders QB Derek Carr and DE Khalil Mack performed "subtle actions during the anthem" before Saturday's game against the Rams, as Carr "placed his right hand on Mack's left shoulder as a show of solidarity." Carr after the game said, "We’re not protesting. We’re not doing anything like that. What we wanted to do was show all the kids that look up to me, look up to him, that white kids, blue kids, brown kids, blue, green, doesn’t matter, can all be loving to each other." Mack said he wanted to "show unity" between "different races." Mack: "It’s discussed a lot. It’s one of the things I feel passionately about, but I just don’t like the attention, the attention that comes with it. But at the same time, just using my platform for positivity is what’s important for me." Tafur noted people are "watching what players do now during the national anthem." While Bennett sits to protest social injustice, Carr indicated that he and Mack "wanted to go about it a different way, together." Carr: "We wanted to show them that it’s OK for a white kid and a black kid that come from two different neighborhoods (to) grow up and love one another and be best friends" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/21).

DEAFENING SILENCE: Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch "once again sat" during the anthem, and Raiders S Shalom Luani also "kneeled during part of the anthem" (AP, 8/19). In S.F., Ann Killion wrote if Lynch’s anthem statement is political, we are "still waiting for him to own it." It "seems quite obvious that it is," but Lynch last week "clowned his way through a brief news conference" when given the opportunity to explain things. Protesting during the anthem is a "serious issue that raises passions on all sides" and "requires a conversation" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/20).

LET'S TRY THIS AGAIN: In Sacramento, Matt Barrows noted 49ers GM John Lynch got a "second chance to discuss his view of anthem protests on Friday morning." His comments earlier last week "drew criticism after he said the protests can be 'divisive' and that he’d always seen the national anthem, and the game of football, as a way to bring disparate groups of people together." Speaking on KNBR-AM, Lynch said that he "regretted the word divisive."  Lynch said, "If I could take one thing back, I would have changed that word. Because of the negative connotation. But I was really trying to make the point that our game should be a beacon for what can be" (SACBEE.com, 8/18). In San Jose, Cam Inman wrote Lynch is "among those truly appreciative for the scene that unfolded during Thursday night’s national anthem" involving Long and Jenkins. Lynch said, "When I saw that picture of Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins, that’s exactly what I was speaking to and what I think is so great of football. ... It is an example of how our society can be and should be of people coming together" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/19).

HOW MANY MORE WILL COME? On Long Island, Barbara Barker wrote the question that remains is whether "more white athletes stand up and do the same" as Britt and Long. Barker: "With the images of white supremacists marching through Charlottesville, Virginia, no longer a daily news story, will white athletes continue to risk their careers to support their black teammates?" (NEWSDAY, 8/21). In DC, Adam Kilgore writes the acts by Britt and Long "stood out, in part, because of how many sidelines remained void of anthem displays" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/21). FS1's Skip Bayless said the gestures from Britt, Long and Carr were "more about Charlottesville than it was about white cops shooting unarmed black men." Bayless: "It's touching white hearts in a way that Colin Kaepernick's initial theme didn't touch white hearts.  A lot of eyes and ears and minds were closed, and I think they have been opened. You're still not going to touch the white heart always in the way you can unless the white heart feels shame over white groups preaching hate" ("Undisputed," FS1, 8/21).