Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll says that he respects and supports anthem protesting player Michael Bennett, but feels that it is a mistake to protest during the playing of the national anthem.
During last weekend’s preseason game, outspoken Seahawks defensive end Bennett decided to continue protesting the national anthem and remained seated at the start of Sunday’s game in Los Angeles.
Bennett has been a vocal supporter of original anthem protester Colin Kaepernick, who since declared an end to his protests after entering free agency. Despite that announcement, Kaepernick has not yet found a team to sign him for the 2017 season.
Pete Carroll, while respecting the motivations behind the protests, is not a fan of protesting the anthem:
“I support the heck out of (Bennett’s) concerns and his issues and all that,” Carroll said of Bennett, according to USA Today. “When it comes to it, I love our country, and I think we should all stand when the flag is represented. His heart is in the right place — he’s going to do great work well after the time he’s with us — and 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 noted that he supports players expressing their individuality, but he also said that the needs of the team as a whole needed to be balanced against that expression.
“We celebrate the uniqueness of our players in every way that we can, as long as they toe the line and fit in with this football team,” Carroll insisted “We are not scattered in our views. We’re not disconnected. We’re a very connected group, and I think we’ve demonstrated that over the years.
“By the same token, these are young men who are trying to find their message. They’re trying to find their heart. And I couldn’t support that more. I think when we do connect with who they are, I think we can help them go farther. That’s a big challenge for me and our coaches and our administration: to work to understand our guys and to see what they can do. But they have to roll with us now,” Carroll added.
The coach said he wasn’t aware that Bennett was going to continue his Kaepernick-styled protest, but noted that he was having a “conversation” with the two time Pro Bowl player to help him understand the consequences of his actions.
Carroll’s proclamation about ending the anthem protests is interesting in light of the fact that the Seahawks were one of the few teams that publicly announced any interest in signing Colin Kaepernick this year. However, the Seahawks eventually decided not to sign the former 49er.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.
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