RENTON — One Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end says he’s going to keep sitting.
The other is likely sitting out the rest of this season — if not the remainder of his career.
Michael Bennett says he will continue to sit during the national anthem.
“I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing,” Bennett said Wednesday. “And the consequences are the consequences, I guess, of teams not wanting guys to play. I think about what Jerry Jones said; I think it is crazy.”
The Dallas Cowboys’ owner has said any of his players that don’t stand for the anthem won’t play for his team.
Also Wednesday: Cliff Avril is expected to go on injured reserve, perhaps as early as this week.
That would mean the 10-year veteran would miss at least the next eight games, until mid-December at the earliest.
But, really, Avril has been considering he may be at the end of his career for the past two weeks.
One of the most well-liked and respected guys on the Seahawks, inside and outside the locker room, Avril has been seeing doctors and specialists to get their opinions on the risks to his quality of life from nerve issues that caused him to temporarily lose feeling in his arms and hands.
Coach Pete Carroll told SiriusXM NFL Radio Wednesday: “Cliff will be going on IR here. And he’s got a … it’s going to take some time for him to deal with his situation. We’ll figure it out as we go. Not a definitive situation yet, but it is going to be a while. We’ve got to give him a while for his neck to calm down and we’ll see how that goes.
“He’s taking in a lot of information right now. … He’s seeing a lot of doctors. He’s just trying to find out exactly what his situation is and what he can anticipate. And seriously looking at this. It’s a big decision coming up.”
Avril played 11 snaps against Indianapolis on Oct. 1 before quarterback Jacoby Brissett kicked him under the chin and jolted his previously concussed head back, while Avril pursued him in the first quarter. He did not return to that game. He hasn’t played or practiced since.
Avril, coming off a career year with 11½ sacks and his first Pro Bowl selection in 2016, is at peace with what he’s accomplished in his career. At the age of 31, the former member of an 0-16 Detroit Lions team has earned $25 million the past four years with Seattle.
And, he has far more going for him than just football. He and his wife Dantia have two young sons, Xavier and Xander. He and his Cliff Avril Family Foundation have held charity events such as backpack and school-supply giveaways to kids to raise awareness for childhood diabetes. He has donated money for each of his 14½ sacks over the past 21 games to build homes in impoverished Haiti. Avril has visited the island nation to do some of the building. His father emigrated from Haiti in 1982, four years before Avril was born. Avril visited the Caribbean nation as a kid every summer to see his grandmother.
He’s prepared, if this is indeed the end.
Meanwhile, Bennett digs in.
What he said on Wednesday, that he would continue to sit, was at odds with what commissioner Roger Goodell was saying in New York at the conclusions of two days of meetings with NFL owners and, on Tuesday, players.
Goodell is trying to move the league and its players past the national controversy surrounding Bennett and other players sitting or kneeling during the anthem at games this season.
“Another issue we spent a great deal of time talking about (Wednesday) morning (with owners) was how much we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. That is an important part of our policy, it’s also an important part of our game that we all take great pride in,” Goodell said in New York. “It is also important for us to honor the flag and our country. Our fans expect us to do that. That is something that we continued to focus on (Wednesday) morning. We are really talking about the opportunity that exists with our players to try to go and really make a difference in our communities in a positive way …
“We need to keep the focus on the fact that we believe that our players should stand for the national anthem. That is an important part of our game and an important moment and we believe in that. We also have to focus on the fact that we have six or seven players that are involved with the protest at this point and what we try to do is deal with the underlying issue and understand what it is they are protesting and what we can do to address that. The important thing for us is to be able to do that and take that opportunity to make real differences in our communities. That is really what will ultimately be the important aspect for us long-term. This is a long-term issue and we need to be sure that we do that in the right way.”
Bennett has a right way. He says no real progress will be made with the NFL on players’ concerns over equality for minorities the need for police reform until after the league addresses quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s continued unemployment.
Wearing a red, “EQUALITY” hoodie, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl defensive end did not from other side of the country on Wednesday portray the optimism the 13 players that met with and 11 NFL team owners did in New York on Tuesday.
“I talked to the players in the owners’ meeting,” Bennett said before practice for Sunday’s game at the New York Giants. “I think the first step to even being able to even have a conversation is making sure that Colin Kaepernick gets the opportunity to play in the NFL.”
Kaepernick, a Super Bowl starter for San Francisco 4½ years ago, remains unsigned six weeks into this regular season. He was the first player to take a knee during the national anthem at games last year to raise awareness to equality for minorities and issues of police brutality and shootings across America. He’s become a martyr to the causes for which Bennett’s been advocating — and sitting during anthems.
It’s a tricky proposal Bennett is making. Just when the league and Goodell are trying to move past the anthem controversy while talking more than they ever have about addressing and supporting the causes Bennett, teammate Doug Baldwin and many other NFL players are highlighting, Bennett sets as a condition the hiring of the most polarizing figure in the country on this issue.
Then again, Bennett is capitalizing on the new momentum in his and his players’ causes — at least awareness of them — in the highest levels of the NFL.
Bennett said “I think that was brought up” by the 13 players in New York that met with Goodell and the 11 team owners Tuesday, “but I think they didn’t really get deep into it.
“There needs to be a deep conversation about this,” he said. “Whether it’s not happening and he’s not going to play again, or whether they open the doors up. But I think there needs to be some kind of resolution what’s going on.”