After standing during the national anthem before the previous two games against the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals during “Salute to Service” nights, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett returned to sitting during the “Star Spangled Banner” prior to Sunday’s game in San Francisco.
Eight of Bennett’s teammates joined him in sitting Sunday. Left tackle Duane Brown and defensive end Branden Jackson each took a knee beside them in front of the bench on the Seahawks’ sideline.
“The last couple weeks we wanted to honor the military, so that was really good,” Bennett said.
After the Seahawks 24-13 win, Bennett, the son of a U.S. Navy veteran, pulled out of his his locker a unit coin from the U.S. Army’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Bennett said he got that on the field at Levi’s Stadium following Sunday’s game, from a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Michael Bennett shares Army unit coin he got from a Vietnam vet after game. Seahawks DE sat for anthem after honoring military recent weeks. pic.twitter.com/jVjXsbS1LM
— Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) November 27, 2017
The 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was one of the first American military units on the ground in Vietnam, first in 1961 as an advisory force sent by President John F. Kennedy. For more than a decade, it was a backbone force for the U.S. in the protracted conflict. It was among the last American military units to leave southeast Asia following the end of the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s.
“He lost half his battalion. He was telling me about the POWs and the people missing in action. He gave that to me. Says he loves everything I stand for,” Bennett said, displaying the coin for the assembled media to see. “That’s just an honor to be able to get something like that. That’s a big deal.”
Bennett said he didn’t know if the man was a 49ers or Seahawks fan.
Michael Bennett proudly displaying @USArmy unit coin he received on field today after #Seahawks beat SF. Part of Bennett's ongoing recognition military veterans. @thenewstribune pic.twitter.com/zRZRLKVm4D
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) November 27, 2017
Bennett has received national attention and national for sitting during the national anthem to bring awareness to the mistreatment of minorities and need for police reform in the United States.
As part of the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, Bennett plans to wear cleats during next Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles honoring families of POW and MIA soldiers. He said a few weeks ago he was inspired to do so after watching a PBS documentary on the Vietnam War.
Bennett also said Sunday he feels it’s important to support soldiers who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“So to be able to shine a light on some of the issues that are going on within the military or from after [war] is something I think as Americans we should definitely bring up,” he said. “As much as we love everything they do, we should love everything that they’re going through too. So just to be able to support them. It was an honor for me to get that [coin].”