Seahawks’ Bennett to continue social justice crusade in his book

Michael Bennett’s next splash is a book. It comes out April 3.

Its title: Things that Make White People Uncomfortable.

His co-author, Dave Zirin on Monday announced the release date for the Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end’s book published by Haymarket Books—which describes Bennett as “an outspoken proponent for social justice and a man without a censor.”

Bennett explained his book—and its title—this way in June: “I think the title is a just a title to start a conversation so people want to read. I think the book I’m focusing on is issues that I see that are important in America, and that are my view.”

The book’s release will come eight months after Bennett began sitting on the Seahawks’ team bench during national anthems at games to raise awareness for the needs for social equality and police reform.

As the characteristically provocative and outspoken title suggests, the book includes Bennett’s thoughts on race relations not just in the NFL but in our society.

The cover includes a quote from John Carlos, the track sprinter bronze medalist at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics who with gold medalist and fellow American Tommie Smith raised a gloved fist and bowed their head on the medal stand to protest poverty, lynchings and promote Black Power.

“This book doesn’t only explain the roots of Michael Bennett’s courage,” Carlos is quoted as saying. “It will inspire the people who read it to conquer their fears and fight for what’s right.”

Zirin is sports editor at the progressive magazine The Nation. He and Bennett will be going on a tour promoting the 220-page book, with dates and locations still to be announced. You can count on at least one in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

“Bennett adds his unmistakable voice to discussions of racism and police violence, Black athletes and their relationship to powerful institutions like the NCAA and the NFL, the role of protest in history, and the responsibilities of athletes as role models to speak out against injustice,” Haymarket Books says. “Following in the footsteps of activist-athletes from Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick, Bennett demonstrates his outspoken leadership both on and off the field.

“Things that Make White People Uncomfortable is a sports book for our turbulent times, a memoir, and a manifesto as hilarious and engaging as it is illuminating.”

Bennett talked throughout 2017 about the need for equality for women—he’s a husband and father to three daughters—for those of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds and sexual orientations.

“This is my story, this is my journey, my thoughts on sports, my thoughts on issues in America, my thoughts on women’s equality — different issues like that,” Bennett said. “I think when people think about writers as an athlete, they think about you writing a story about your sports journey, but mine is more of a reflection of America and its past and its time.”

Bennett told me minutes after he played in Seattle’s 2017 finale on New Year’s Eve that he “probably won’t be back” with the Seahawks in 2018. He is 32 years old and coming off a season in which he played through a torn plantar fascia in his foot and a swollen knee on top of years with chronic toe pain.

He has three years remaining on a contract Seattle extended in December 2016 for $29.5 million through the 2020 season. That got him $17.5 million in guarantees up front while he could still command them.

The Seahawks would save $2 million against its 2018 salary cap by releasing him before June 1. That’s not a lot on a cap that is likely to be at least $178 million, but Seattle is believed to currently have just about $8 million or so in cap space right now, factoring in about $6 million the team will need for its rookie pool of eight scheduled draft choices.

“Just seems like it’s a young man’s game. I can see them going younger, with younger players,” Bennett said Dec. 31. “That’s part of the game.”

In late August he was detained briefly by Las Vegas police officers outside a casino. He alleged racism and mistreatment. He said in early September he was considering a civil-rights lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. That department has vehemently denied Bennett’s charges, and Bennett knew many people in the U.S. thinks he’s lied about the incident.

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