Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett on Wednesday compared NFL team owners saying they will bench players who kneel during the national anthem to the Dred Scott case, a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1857.
Bennett was responding to comments made by Dallas Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones, who said earlier this month that any of his players who disrespect the American flag would not play. Jones doubled down on those remarks last week.
"The policy and my actions are going to be if you don't honor and stand for the flag in a way that a lot of our fans feel that you should, if that's not the case, then you won't play," he said.
Bennett said that Jones' comments reminded him of the infamous Dred Scott case, the Seattle Times reported. Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom, but the Supreme Court ruled against him. The court opinion read that black people "whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves," could not be American citizens and therefore could not sue in federal court, even if they were free.
"I just thought it [Jones' comments] reminded me of the Dred Scott case," Bennett said. "You are property, so you don't have the ability to be a person first. And I think in this generation I think that sends the wrong message to young kids and young people all across the world that your employer doesn't see you as a human being, they see you as a piece of property. And if that's the case, then I don't get it. I just don't get why you don't see him as a human being, they don't see us as human beings first."
Bennett plans on continuing to sit during the national anthem.
"I plan on sitting down, in general," he said. "Like I said, I'll continue to do what I've been doing, and the consequences are the consequences."
Bennett said that before he agrees to stop his protests, the NFL needs to give former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick an opportunity to play in the NFL.
"I think the first step to even being able to have a conversation is making sure that Colin Kaepernick gets an opportunity to play in the NFL," Bennett said. "That's before we even negotiate anything about whether we sit or whether we stand there should be a negotiation about opening up the doors for Colin Kaepernick and giving him an opportunity again."
Last month, Bennett claimed that Las Vegas police singled him out and pointed their guns at him for "nothing more than being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Bennett is currently under a three-year, $30,500,000 contract with the Seattle Seahawks.