Carroll supports Bennett but insists Seahawks should stand for anthem

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll backs Michael Bennett's decision to sit during the national anthem but says he believes players should stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner".
Carroll supports Bennett but insists Seahawks should stand for anthem

Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of their NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in this December 10, 2016, photo. The defensive stalwart says he will continue to sit during the national anthem this season to protest against social injustice and segregation in the United States.

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he supported Michael Bennett's decision to sit during the national anthem while also saying he believes players should stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Bennett's actions were a primary topic of conversation for Carroll on Tuesday, two days after Bennett sat on the bench during the anthem before the preseason opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. Bennett didn't inform Carroll or his teammates of his decision to sit while the rest of the Seahawks stood locked arm-in-arm on the sideline last Sunday.

"It's easy for me to support him in his issues. But I think we should all be standing up when we're playing the national anthem," Carroll said.

Bennett said after the game that the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, including the death of a woman who was struck by a car deliberately driven into a group of counter-protesters, solidified his decision.

"I can appreciate a man that no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what people are going to think, no matter what people are going to say, his morals and what he thinks is right to him, he's going to stand up for it," teammate Cliff Avril said.

Carroll said he's met with Bennett on a couple of occasions since Sunday to talk about his actions.

"We've talked a lot about all that is going to come to him and listened very carefully to people's perspective and stay very true and stay very much in the middle so he doesn't get captured one way or the other by somebody else's concerns, somebody else's issues," Carroll said. "I'll continue to support him and help in every way. We'll visit regularly and hopefully all make sense of the things that come his way."

Bennett was at least the third prominent National Football League player to protest during the anthem in the first full week of preseason games. Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, a former teammate of Bennett's in Seattle, also sat. Los Angeles Rams defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist, continuing his approach from last season following then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the anthem.

Kaepernick is a free agent, and the fallout from his protest has not abated, even as he remains unsigned.

Bennett's action was receiving strong support from teammates and his brother Martellus, a tight end for Green Bay.

"I support Michael in everything he does. He's very well-educated on what it is he wants to happen in the world and what he's trying to communicate, and I think he does an awesome job," Martellus Bennett said on Tuesday. "I love him to death, and I think he's very courageous in the position he's in and the things that he says, and I'm very proud to be his brother and to see him make the impact that he does — not just with stances like that but the work that he does in the community, the type of father that he is."

Doug Baldwin was another player supporting Bennett. Baldwin spoke out on a number of issues a year ago when Kaepernick was kneeling during the anthem. Baldwin became emotional on Tuesday when pointing out the topic of discussion compared to the ongoing issues of race in the country.

"He made himself vulnerable. Now he's put himself out there and I know what that's like and sometimes it's a scary position to be in and to me it is very brave," Baldwin said. "Especially about a topic that he feels so deeply about, that I feel so deeply about. Injustice and inequality, whether you agree with it or not — that's irrelevant. Somebody believes something, so I definitely think the way that he approached it was excellent, very methodical but also very brave."

Special Reports