I wrote a bit yesterday about Michael Bennett’s fit along the Eagles’ defensive line. We touched on his “character issues” towards the end of the piece but decided to put off a legitimate dive for a separate story, which you’re currently reading.
You’d probably heard his name come up before Wednesday, most notably during a summer incident in which he accused the Las Vegas Police Department of racial profiling.
The incident took place after the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight in late August. Bennett went online a few days later to detail his account of what happened, which you can read below:
— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017
Bennett alleged that he was singled out and had a gun pointed at him for “being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He claims officers used excessive force and made threats against him.
The Vegas PD underwent a three-week investigation and announced on September 29th that they had found no evidence of police misconduct.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo presented those findings at a press conference:
It’s worth watching the portion of the video with the police explanation, which runs about 17 minutes. Lombardo goes through surveillance video and multiple pieces of body camera footage while walking reporters through the situation.
He did not, however, have video from the officer who detained Bennett. That officer’s camera apparently was not turned on, so take that into consideration. That police officer is Hispanic and the two others in the vicinity were a second Hispanic officer and a black sergeant, according to the sheriff.
TMZ has another angle of the incident, but you still don’t see the actual takedown, which happened below a ledge that blocks the camera:
Bennett was handed off to another officer before he was eventually released. Police say he was detained for ten minutes, seven in a police car, and then let go.
Bennett spoke a few weeks later in October, holding steady on his assertions:
“Obviously, at the end of the thing, I’m talking to officers who weren’t a part of it. I got taken to another officer, and that’s the one I ended up talking to towards the end,” Bennett said. “So like I said, I don’t hate anybody or have a problem with any police officers. Just that what happened to me is a certain situation.
“People are entitled to their position and what they believe in, no matter what happened. So at the end of the day, there’s going to be people who believe me and people who don’t believe me, and my ultimate goal is not to make everybody believe me or make everybody happy, it’s just about me being able to sleep at night and continuously speak upon what happened to me personally.”
Bennett said he hasn’t seen the video: “I was there, so I don’t need to see the video.”
You can go through those videos and decide for yourself whether officers behaved appropriately or not.
Bennett is a Colin Kaepernick supporter and decided to sit down during the National Anthem last season.
He explained his reasoning for that in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper:
You might recall that Bennett was joined by white teammate Justin Britt in a show of solidarity:
— theScore (@theScore) August 26, 2017
“A very emotional moment to have that kind of solidarity from someone like Justin Britt, who’s a known leader in our locker room, who’s from a different part of America than me,” Bennett said. “But to be able to have that solidarity and to be able to have somebody who is behind me and know that it’s someone that I really trust, and to see him put everything on the line to support one of his teammates, I thought that was a very special moment.”
That’s basically what you see on the Eagles sidelines with Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long, is it not? The difference is that Jenkins raises a fist while Bennett decides to sit down. That’s the same way Kaepernick’s protest began, though the ex-San Fran quarterback compromised and started taking a knee out of respect to veterans.
Bennett has raised the Jenkins fist before. He did it as a sack celebration in 2017:
— Omar Moore (@popcornreel) September 17, 2017
He also has a book coming out in April, titled Things That Make White People Uncomfortable:
I don’t think suburbanites at the Berwyn Barnes and Noble are gonna be hot for that book, but I’d probably read it.
Anyway, you know that the Eagles are a franchise that supports these kinds of expressions, and nothing that Jenkins or Long did last season affected play on the field or the culture inside the locker room. The Birds seemed like a tight-knit group who did not have any character issues bleed into the public spotlight or interfere with a SUPER BOWL VICTORY.
Sure, you had some right-wing stiffs who stopped watching the NFL because of the protests, and some left-wing stiffs who stopped watching the NFL because they thought Kaepernick was being blackballed. That, in my opinion, allowed moderate and rational America to just watch the games and study the protests without the partisan flapping.
Jenkins has notably done a ton of charity work, and even though that one writer in Philadelphia thinks he’s a “sellout,” you can’t dispute the community contributions Jenkins has made. Long, then, famously donated his entire 2017 salary to charity. So you can say what you want about both of those guys, but there’s substance there, not just demonstrative fluff.
To that point, Bennett started the eponymous “Bennett Foundation,” which puts forth this mission statement:
Our family started The Bennett Foundation to help prevent childhood obesity. By educating communities through free, accessible programming, we hope to provide kids and families with the knowledge and resources that will enable them to make good, healthy lifestyle choices.
It looks like he and his wife run the foundation with a managing and programs director. His brother, Martellus, isn’t listed on the website and doesn’t appear to be involved. Programs are centered around under-served communities in Hawaii, Washington, and Texas. The foundation donated over $86,000 in grants, according to their most recent tax filing, so it does legitimate work in the community.
I don’t know how his community work stacks up to that of guys like Malcolm Jenkins or Anquan Boldin or Chad Greenday, but it’s there. This isn’t just words and bluster.
As far as on-field incidents, this happened recently:
“You have an incredibly dirty situation with a guy diving at the back of the knees of a player not even facing Michael Bennett. This is eerily similar to what Gronk & Mike Evans did. Both got suspended, how is Bennett any different?"
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) December 14, 2017
Bennett was not fined for that, but others were, to the tune of almost $85,000.
There’s also this:
And here’s an unnecessary late hit:
Extremely dirty play and a fine will be coming for Michael Bennett for sure pic.twitter.com/Y3sgZqvdwP
— Best NFL Matchups (@BestNFLMatchups) October 11, 2015
That’s stuff you don’t want to see from anybody, but it doesn’t appear to be too much of a theme with Bennett.
So that’s what I was able to find. You can cast judgment on Michael Bennett, the person, as you see fit.