The Seattle Seahawks, including longtime protester Michael Bennett, stood as a team for the national anthem prior to Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. This weekend will mark the NFL’s annual commemoration of Veterans Day, and the Seahawks indicated they stood to honor the sacrifices of America’s veterans.
Michael Bennett told NBC he stood for the Anthem tonight in advance of Veterans Day to make it clear he supports the military, Mike Tirico just said on the broadcast.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) November 10, 2017
Various Seahawks, including Bennett, have sat or knelt during the anthem all year as a way of bringing attention to social inequality and racial injustice. Despite the fact that protesting players have indicated from the start, and repeated over the past 15 months, that their protests are not aimed at the military, many fans nonetheless viewed the protests as disrespectful to the flag and to veterans. The Seahawks’ stance this week was meant to put some distance between the protests and the military.
The NFL is seeking to figure how to respect players’ right to speak while still respecting the beliefs of a segment of its fanbase vehemently opposed to the protests. With Veterans Day on the horizon, the NFL is seeking to alter the perception of the protests as anti-military, but that may well be an impossible task.