Sports | May 31, 2019 4:18 pm

Ex-Patriot Says Tom Brady Could Change NFL Kneeling Conversation

Martellus Bennett said white QBs should weigh in on the Colin Kaepernick situation

Ex-tight end Martellus Bennett. (Justin Edmonds/Getty)
Ex-tight end Martellus Bennett. (Justin Edmonds/Getty)
Getty Images

During a talk hosted by The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill in Washington on Thursday, former Patriot Martellus Bennett said the national conversation surrounding Colin Kaepernick and kneeling during the national anthem would shift if New England quarterback Tom Brady and other white quarterbacks would engage in it.

Bennett, a 10-year NFL tight end who retired in 2017, argued that Brady could change what some white Americans feel about kneeling during the anthem if he were to follow Kaepernick’s lead.

“If Tom Brady took a knee, white America would be like, ‘Oh my God. What is this that Tom Brady’s talking about?’” Bennett said. “They would start doing research and would join in the conversation. It would pique their interest. But since it’s a black guy taking a knee, it’s like, ‘Alright, these guys, here he goes again. It’s another one of these guys out here doing this.’”

Bennett did not limit the conversation to Brady.

“If Peyton Manning joined the conversation, the conversation in the NFL would change,” Bennett said. “If Drew Brees came in and really joined the conversation, it would change. Tom Brady. All these great white heroes that they have running around, throwing the football — if they jump into the conversation, it would be so much bigger.”

But Bennett did not just limit his comments to the NFL’s anthem kneeling controversy and also spoke about the issue the league has with domestic violence.

“I think guys should be punished. If you hit a woman, you should not be playing football,” he said. “There’s no excuse for child abuse. My hands are big, my feet are big, I’m ridiculously strong … Hitting a child, to me, at this position is kind of ridiculous. Discipline your child how you want, but things get to the extreme. Watching the video of Ray Rice, I wanted to choke the sh*t out of Ray Rice. I wanted to punch him in the face. If those guys were on my team, I’d have issues with those guys. It pisses me off. These conversations about Colin Kaepernick have been in the news for forever, but these conversations about domestic violence go in the news cycle and get sh*tted out the back end and no one really thinks about it. These conversations need to be at the forefront.”

Bennett also called on all athletes to use their platform to fight injustices.

“You have to be active and you have to be educated on what you’ve been active about,” Bennett said. “A lot of guys like to join in the conversation, but … they are not really on your team. … When you get a platform, it’s your purpose to be the voice for the voiceless.”

In addition to Hill and Bennett, World Cup champion Briana Scurry, former U.S. Olympian John Carlos, Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud and a handful of prominent sports figures spoke at the “Athletes + Activism” forum.

Watch the full “Athletes + Activism” video here.

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