In what has to be the public relations equivalent of passing on the 1-yard line in the Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks have made the decision to nominate Michael Bennett for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 8, 2017
Bennett thrust himself on the national stage, first, by taking part in the national anthem protests begun by Colin Kaepernick in 2016. However, Bennett most notably put himself on the social justice radar for an incident which occurred on the night of the Mayweather-McGregor fight.
In which Bennett alleged that the Las Vegas Police Department had singled him out, detained him, and pointed their guns at him, for no other reason than “simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Benett also accused the LVMPD of threatening to “blow my f*ck*ng head off.”
Bennett described his version of events on Twitter:
— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017
Bennett’s activist head coach Pete Carroll offered his unqualified support to Bennett, and took a shot at the police as well. Saying the incident was indicative of “inequality demonstrated daily.”
May this incident inspire all of us to respond with compassion and courage pic.twitter.com/vtsaB8BWi5
— Pete Carroll (@PeteCarroll) September 6, 2017
Even Commissioner Goodell chimed-in before any investigation of the incident, to support Bennett.
Goodell said, “Michael Bennett represents the best of the NFL — a leader on his team and in his community. Our foremost concern is the welfare of Michael and his family. While we understand the Las Vegas police department will address this later this evening, the issues Michael has been raising deserve serious attention from all of our leaders in every community. We will support Michael and all NFL players in promoting mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they loyally serve and fair and equal treatment under the law.”
The only problem with all this, is that Bennett’s version of events was a version other than the truth. Bennett was not detained for “simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.” As video released by the LVMPD shows, Bennett was detained for acting in an extremely suspicious manner during an active shooter investigation.
Nor, according to the video, is there any evidence that anyone ever said they’d blow his f*ck*ng head off. The video also disputes several other of Bennett’s claims, such as the amount of time Bennett was detained.
Even Bennett’s own attorney disputed his claim that the police acted with racial bias towards the Seahawk defender:
— Matt Markovich (@mattmarkovich) September 6, 2017
Yet, despite these lies and distortions, the Seahawks still nominated Bennett for an award that is given to a player who exhibits “outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field.”
Two other players who participated in anthem protests were also nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award: Miami’s Kenny Stills and Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins. However, Jenkins suspennded his protest after the NFL agreed to give nearly $90 million to social justice causes.