Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, left, sits during the singing of the national anthem as center Justin Britt, right, stands next to him before an NFL football preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, in Seattle. Bennett will speak about the context of his protests during the national anthem and his meeting with a group of military veterans during NBC’s broadcast of Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. Elaine Thompson AP file
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, left, sits during the singing of the national anthem as center Justin Britt, right, stands next to him before an NFL football preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, in Seattle. Bennett will speak about the context of his protests during the national anthem and his meeting with a group of military veterans during NBC’s broadcast of Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. Elaine Thompson AP file

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Seahawks star tells national audience he hopes protests during anthem will ‘change culture’

October 01, 2017 04:25 PM

UPDATED October 01, 2017 04:25 PM

Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett will speak about the context of his protests during the national anthem and his meeting with a group of military veterans during NBC’s broadcast of Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

In the exclusive interview airing tonight on Football Night in America he tells sideline reporter Michele Tafoya, “My intention is to change the culture. We had to come to a belief that what we do does not define who we are. What we do does not make us. How we love, that defines us, and how we care for the people, that’s what defines us. That’s what we talked about. How can we care and how can we give to the community and show people that we have compassion for both. We have nothing against the military flag. We love the military and America. But, we don’t love oppression, we don’t love discrimination, we don’t love racism. For us, that’s what it was about.

“I simply ask the question, why in the game do we feel unified, but once we leave that stadium, we’re not unified? For me, that’s just what it is really about, and I just worry that people get so lost in a demonstration and what we’re trying to do that I just want to keep the message. The message has always been that we want equality for every single human being. For me, it’s about human beings treating people great. That’s what it’s about every single day.”

He also talked to Tafoya about meeting with veterans.

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“I’ve seen veterans out there protesting, and it’s their right to do that. I just wanted to pull over and get the chance to understand,” Bennett said. “If I’m going to show and ask for certain things, I need to ask that of myself, to be in that position, to sit there and have a conversation with them, to hear their stories and understand that a lot of things that they’ve been through, I’ve never experienced. A lot of things that I’ve been through, they’ve never experienced. So, there’s some common ground and things that we share such as values and what we believe in. To have that conversation, to have them understand me, and for me to understand them was very emotional for me. … I learned that they’re not that much different from me or different from what we want to do. Everything that they did in the military is about team. For me, it’s the same thing in football. Everything we do is about team and brotherhood. It was just about listening to them. That’s what they really love, that I took the time to stop. I could have done anything. To me, it was about stopping and hearing their voice.”

NBC’s coverage of the game started at 4 p.m.