Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett sat during the national anthem for the second straight game of the preseason.
Bennett was alone sitting on the Seahawks bench during the "Star-Spangled Banner" before Friday night's preseason game against Minnesota. But teammates showed support for Bennett with center Justin Britt standing alongside with his hand on Bennett's shoulder. Defensive back Jeremy Lane also stood next to Bennett. Lane sat for the national anthem during one preseason game last year.
"It was touching and it showed that unity is something that’s super important and solidarity," Bennett said at a post-game press conference.
Bennett said after last Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers that the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, including the death of a woman who was struck by a car deliberately driven into a group of counter-protesters, solidified his decision.
"I think the ultimate goal is to not have people judged on the color of their skin and not have racism, not to have discrimination," Bennett said.
Bennett has received support from his teammates and the Seahawks organization. Coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week he believes players should stand for the anthem but supported Bennett.
A season ticket holder also took his seat during the anthem in a show of support. TJ, who declined to give his last name, tweeted Bennett on Thursday announcing his intention.
"I've had a lot of positive feedback so far, but I've also had a lot of negative feedback, really angry feedback, violent feedback," he said.
Even some threats. But he says he's willing to take some heat if it helps get people to look past the protest and get at the root of the message. Bennett's teammate Doug Baldwin put it this way Tuesday:
"We're sitting here having a conversation about whether or not it's important that a guy stands for the national anthem or sits, when the topic is inequality or injustice," Baldwin said.
Bennett had said in an interview on CNN that his tipping point was the rioting in Charlottesville the day before the Hawks' first pre-season game.
"There's nothing we can do to hide it anymore. They are marching down the streets with torches, and 'Make America Great' hats on," said TJ. "I might not have the platform that Michael Bennett or Marshawn Lynch have, but I'm using the platform I do have to try and make a difference."
© 2017 Associated Press