What really happened to Michael Bennett?
That's the question still looming. A 30-second TMZ video shows Bennett face down on a sidewalk outside a Las Vegas casino, his hands cuffed behind his back while pleading his innocence to a police officer.
There are those who side with the police, who at the time were responding to reported active shooter. According to police, an officer spotted Bennett hiding behind a slot machine. Once he was in the officer's view, Bennett took off running through an exit and out into traffic.
Here's the common sense question. You see an officer approaching, you know police are clearing the building looking for a reported gunman. Why are you running from police? Why not just stand up, follow instructions and do what the officer says?
It seems like an obvious question from a Caucasian male who thankfully has never been in that situation.
But it's also naïve.
I'm not going to pretend to know what Michael Bennett was trying to accomplish at that exact time he took off running. I've never been in that situation, but he has been there before. In fact, Richard Sherman said a lot of guys in the Seahawks' locker room have dealt with similar situations most of their lives. Sherman told a story from his Stanford days when he was trying to earn some extra money. He was hired by a family in a wealthy neighborhood to help them move some furniture. Sherman was driving slowly through the neighborhood looking for the particular house. After finding the house, meeting the owner and going inside, they heard a hard knock at the door. The owner of the house opened the door to several officers with their guns drawn, barking out orders. A neighbor had apparently called police, thinking Sherman was a suspicious character and was robbing the place. He told that story in a lighthearted way, maybe because he's numb to its effects over the years. He walked out that front door with his hands up. These days he walks around with his hands out, reaching for help, hoping and praying society gets to a place where these situations are a rarity.
What happened to Bennett gives me a greater understanding of what he's trying to accomplish when sitting on the bench during the national anthem.
I've always said, I don't like the method, but I like the message. Sherman said too many people will hear this story, look at the video and just shake their heads in silence.
They won't do anything about it.
The video is compelling. Maybe more so because the man with a knee in his back and his hands cuffed is someone we all feel like we know.
Michael Bennett is great on the field, great in the community and great to the media. He's not a stranger from somewhere else in the country. He's a football hero in this town, but after listening to him today, it's clear he wants to be so much more.