Matrellus Bennett was outspoken while playing in the NFL and he has remained the same since leaving the league. The 10-year NFL tight end who retired in 2017 took part at an “Athletes + Activism” forum hosted by The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill in Washington earlier this week.
During the forum, Bennett talked about some tough issues, calling for white quarterbacks to step up on issues of race and calling out domestic abusers in the NFL by name. He brought up the subject of the kneeling during the national anthem that went on to become a huge controversial issue. Calling on prominent white quarterbacks to join the movement catalyzed by Colin Kaepernick, Bennett said:
“If Peyton Manning joined the conversation, the conversation in the NFL would change. 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.”
He went on to say that this kind of important issues shouldn’t be ignored:
“If they were to take a knee with Colin Kaepernick, that conversation would totally change. If Tom Brady took a knee, white America would be like, ‘Oh my God. What is this that Tom Brady’s talking about?’ 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 also brought up the issue of NFL players who have been accused of domestic abuse:
“If you hit a woman you should not be playing football. There’s not any excuse for child abuse. I don’t whip my daughter. … Hitting a child to me at this position is ridiculous. Watching the video of Ray Rice. I wanted to choke the s— out of Ray Rice. I wanted to punch him in the face. If they’re on my team, I have issues with these guys. I’m gonna tackle them every single day.”
We applaud Bennett on being willing to bring up such tough subjects.