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Bennett and Lynch stay seated as anthem protest spreads

Both Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett refused to stand for the US national anthem this weekend.

Bennett and Lynch sit during the anthems.
Bennett and Lynch sit during the anthems.
Image: TwoOhSix.com/Twitter

AS WEEK ONE of the NFL pre-season clicks into gear, the focus is off the pitch as two high-profile players followed Colin Kaepernick’s lead and sat for the US national anthem.

During the rendition before yesterday’s game with the Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett sat with a towel over his head, a day after his former team-mate — and now Oakland Raiders running back — Marshawn Lynch did the same against the Arizona Cardinals.

Bennett told reporters after the game that he planned to remain seated during the anthem for the entire season.

“First of all, I want people to understand that I love the military,” Bennett said.

“My father’s in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American.

But I don’t love segregation. I don’t love riots or oppression.

“I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve. And I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message of that.”

Bennett said the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, served as a catalyst for his actions on Sunday.

The Super Bowl winner spent time with Kaepernick during the NFL off-season and wore a T-shirt supporting Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights” campaign during a press conference earlier this year.

His move follows Marshawn Lynch’s on Saturday, with the Raiders head coach, Jack Del Rio, telling reporters the pair had discussed the decision beforehand.

“[He] said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself,’” Del Rio said.

“I said: ‘So you understand how I feel. I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m going to respect you as a man. You do your thing, and we’ll do ours.’

“So that’s a non-issue for me.”

However, photos have since emerged of Lynch standing for the anthem at Super Bowl XLIX when he was with the Seattle Seahawks.

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