While the running back has been adamant over his protest, he is not planning to stop just because President Trump’s favorite team signed him.
One of the most fearsome defenders in the NFL - Micheal Bennett got traded to the New England Patriots, which had throes of football implications.
People still remember Bennett to be among the first supporters of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest during the national anthem. And in his address, he seemed to be adamant to support the movement for black lives, even after being picked up President Trump’s favorite team.
Eagles trading 3x Pro Bowl DE Michael Bennett to Patriots. pic.twitter.com/qHjQfcDLJQ— NFL (@NFL) 14 March 2019
Yahoo Sports reports that in his March 11 address at Princeton University, Bennett addressed the question - 'How would one of the game’s most outspoken political activists fit in with the team most closely aligned with fire-tweeting NFL critic President Donald Trump?'
He took on the question head-on and said that he plans to talk with quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick about their connections to Trump.
"I think it's important not to to run away from those conversations."— NESN (@NESN) 12 March 2019
New Patriot Michael Bennett is ready to engage Tom Brady and Bill Belichick on their perceived support of Donald Trump.https://t.co/oWAdkm0Dh2 pic.twitter.com/cJLh8KCnAf
"I think it's important not to run away from those conversations, or not hear their ideas about why they think the way they do," he said. "I think it's an opportunity for growth to have those conversations. ... If we don't allow ourselves to have those conversations, we're stunting our growth."
Bennett, who was scheduled to take a physical with the Patriots in Boston on Tuesday, said he looked forward to being coached by Bill Belichick and playing on a team led by Tom Brady, ESPN reports.
Michael Bennett says he's told the Patriots he'll stay in the locker room during the National Anthem, and also says he'd like to discuss the presidency of Donald Trump with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. https://t.co/yTYVL10zSU @PhilAPerry pic.twitter.com/OYQAtkuboC— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) 12 March 2019
"From a football perspective there's a respect for Belichick," Bennett said. "I consider him the Yoda of football when it comes to the ins and outs of what's happening around how to prepare for a game."
While meeting with the audience at the Richardson Auditorium at Princeton, Bennett talked about race and society as well.
Bennett and Eddie Glaude Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, professor of religion and chair of the Department of African American Studies, explored the influence and relationship of the NFL to issues around race and the black experience.
Michael Bennett told Patriots he'll be in the locker room for the national anthem https://t.co/EWijTbvk2y— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) 12 March 2019
Bennett said the trade to New England initially surprised him. He was one of a core of NFL players who followed Colin Kaepernick's lead beginning in 2016 and protested during the playing of the national anthem.
The protest agitated many fans and drew the ire of President Donald Trump, who condemned the protesting players and suggested they should be fired.
Belichick and Brady are enthusiastic supporters of the president. In meetings with Patriots executives, Bennett said he would continue to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem.
"I explained to them that my integrity means everything," Bennett said. "I think they respect that about me, they respect who I am as an individual."
He also wanted to draw attention to inequality at the highest levels in professional sports. “We think because there are blacks on the field we’re integrated, but we need to see that at the executive level,” he said, calling not only for more black coaches, referees and CEOs, but also women. “It’s important as an athlete to keep pushing that agenda.”
Thank You @Princeton for getting the opportunity to listen to @mosesbread72 , I had a great time and enjoyed you a lot! Not to mention the book I had received I would also like to thank @coachbobsurace for the opportunity to get to know more about his football program pic.twitter.com/8jOI1sQBXQ— rodney vines jr (@Rvines12) 12 March 2019
“So you took the knee?” said Glaude, referring to Bennett’s solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started a wave of protest by refusing to stand during the national anthem in 2016 because of his views on the country’s treatment of racial minorities.
“I just sat down on the bench,” Bennett said, eliciting applause from the audience.
In sports, we often do not talk about the “person” beyond the “athlete”; I know athletes who don’t know themselves - once they leave sport, they lack the depth they thought they had. - @mosesbread72 to @esglaude at @Princeton pic.twitter.com/FY8umZIYrl— Ben “All for Pi, Pi for All” Chang (@whoisbenchang) 11 March 2019
“What was the reaction?” Glaude said.
Some people felt he was disrespecting the flag, Bennett said, while others focused on the issue of police brutality. “But it was about everything — Haiti, being Native American, not just one singular thing. It was the first time athletes had been heard on an intellectual level.”