Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett compared Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s decision to sit players who do not stand for the national anthem to the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision.
“It reminded me of the Dred Scott case: You’re property, so you don’t have the ability to be a person first,” Bennett told reporters Wednesday. “I think that in this generation, I think that sends the wrong message to young kids and young people all across the world that your employer doesn’t see you as a human being, they see you as a piece of property, and if that’s the case, then I don’t get it. I just don’t get why you don’t see us as human beings first.”
Dred Scott v. Sandford invalidated the standing of any African American whose ancestors toiled as slaves in America to sue in federal court and maintained that the federal government possessed no power to regulate the spread of slavery in territories acquired after the ratification of the Constitution. Jones announced, “If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play—period.”
Bennett’s remarks came during a discussion in which the outspoken player promised to not stand all season when the “Star Spangled Banner” plays and says no understanding between players and owners can occur until a team signs quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched the anthem protests during the 2016 preseason, to a contract.
“I think the issue with Kaepernick is the start to a conversation,” Bennett maintained. “If they want us to be open to what they want, the dialogue, then that’s something that needs to be on the table right there.”
NFL ratings through the first six weeks of the 2017 season decreased 7.5 percent compared to last year’s first six weeks and 18.7 percent from the first six weeks of 2015. Credit Suisse explicitly cited tanking NFL ratings in downgrading earnings expectations for both CBS and Twenty-First Century Fox within the past month.
With the protests potentially costing the league hundreds of millions of dollars, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell curiously held an activism summit with players earlier this week and lent the league’s endorsement to a law reforming federal sentencing laws. The commissioner refused to entertain the idea of punishing players who disrespect the flag the way the league punishes players who wear certain clothing brands on parts of team property, listen to music on unapproved headphones on fields, or bring handguns to work.