Michael Bennett has long protested during the national anthem.
The newly acquired Dallas Cowboys defensive end sat during the anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice as a member of the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles and remained in the locker room during the anthem as a member of the New England Patriots.
Neither of those approaches flies under Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who expects all of his employees to stand at attention during the national anthem.
Jerry Jones makes expectations clear
Now that he’s been traded from the Patriots, that expectation applies to Bennett, as well.
“I’m satisfied that, in Michael, we’ve got a player who knows how we do it here with the Cowboys,” Jones said Tuesday during one of his regular appearances on 105.3 The Fan.
Bennett reportedly agreed to stand prior to trade
The Dallas Morning News reported on Tuesday that Bennett and the Cowboys “reached an understanding” that he would stand for the anthem prior to last week’s trade that brought him to Dallas from New England.
Head coach Jason Garrett addressed the issue at a Tuesday news conference when asked about it.
Like Jones, he didn’t explicitly say that Bennett is expected to stand. But the message was clear: Bennett is expected to stand.
“We don’t anticipate that being an issue,” Garrett said of Bennett’s history of protest. “We’re just excited to have him here.”
When asked to clarify his statement, Garrett echoed Jones.
“We anticipate him doing what all of our players do,” Garrett said.
Strict Cowboys policy
The stance of Jones and Garrett holds true to a policy the Cowboys implemented at the height of the NFL’s anthem controversy.
When the league implemented a policy in 2017 giving players the option to remain in the locker room during the anthem, Jones and his son, Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones, insisted that players would literally toe the line or risk losing their jobs.
“There’s one way to do it right in our mind, and that’s go toes on the line and stand for the anthem,” Jones said in 2017.
Bennett’s history with police
Bennett accused Las Vegas police of using excessive force in 2017 when he was detained and later released after he and several others ran when they thought they heard gunshots at a casino in the aftermath of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight.
Bennett said in a statement that officers “singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Las Vegas police argued that their actions were justified.
Bennett explained decision to protest
That same year, Bennett explained that he loves the military, but “I don’t love segregation. I don’t love riots. I don’t love oppression,” when explaining his choice to protest during the anthem.
“I just want to see people have the equality they deserve,” Bennett continued. “I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message.”
Bennett has not yet spoken publicly on the issue since being traded to the Cowboys.
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