Los Angeles (AFP) – Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett appeared in court in Texas on Monday to face charges stemming from an alleged confrontation with a paraplegic stadium employee at last year’s Super Bowl.
Bennett, 32, went before a judge in Houston and was officially booked and processed over the incident. Bail was set at $10,000.
Bennett’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told reporters gathered at the court that the player was innocent.
“When this is all over everyone will know Michael is not guilty,” Hardin said.
“He did not do this. I’m going to say this with a smile and total confidence: they are going to change their mind.”
Bennett, who joined the Eagles from the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month, was last week accused of pushing a 66-year-old woman as he attempted to enter the field following the New England Patriots’ comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Bennett’s younger brother, Martellus Bennett, was playing for the Patriots in the NFL showpiece at Houston’s NRG Stadium.
Bennett has been indicted by a grand jury on a felony charge of injury to the elderly.
Prosecutors say Bennett “shoved his way on to the field where players were gathering to celebrate” following the Patriots’ overtime win.
“NRG Security personnel, including the 66-year-old disabled victim, told Bennett he had to use a different entrance for field access,” the Harris County district attorney’s office said.
“Instead, he pushed through them, including the elderly woman who was part of the security team.”
The charges against Bennett carry a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Bennett featured prominently in protests by NFL players last year against social injustice, and repeatedly sat down during renditions of the US national anthem.