Michael Bennett pulled out of an NFL trip to Israel after he learned the Israeli government’s agenda. He wrote he wants to be a “voice for the voiceless” in an open letter.
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett started his open letter, posted on his Twitter account (see below), “Dear World,” and laid out his reasons for passing on the NFL Israel trip scheduled for later this week. Israel’s tourism and public diplomacy offices recently announced the trip by a delegation of 12 NFL players, including Michael’s brother Martellus Bennett, to several cities in Israel.
According to Michael Bennett, however, the Israeli government wasn’t completely forthright about what it wanted from the NFL’s ambassadors, which was to act as an “influencer of opinion,” among other things.
Article continues below ...
Bennett is not afraid of crossing the line between sports and politics. Whether he feels an inordinate sense of duty to honor the legacy of Muhammad Ali because of certain recent events in the United States or not is unclear, but one thing is: Michael Bennett takes his role in the public eye seriously.
Wading into one of the most convoluted and entrenched political messes in the world is a brave step even for Bennett, who has never been stopped from saying what he feels. More encouraging than Bennett’s willingness to speak out against Israel’s systematic discrimination against Palestinians is his honest curiosity about Israel and Palestine.
Michael Bennett learned about the situation and read about his idol Ali’s stance on Palestine and his reasons behind it. It was easy to see why a political sports figure like the GOAT would go to bat for the Palestinians.
Whether you like it or not, we’re entering a new era in American sports and sports media. The line between politics and sports–between laws and yardlines–is blurring before our eyes. Prominent athletes know they speak to millions just like politicians do and they may not have that podium for long. What they say, what they wear, and what they do during the National Anthem while they’re in the spotlight matters more now than ever before.
Michael Bennett isn’t afraid to open his eyes and his mouth to say something real to all of us who happen to enjoy watching him penetrate the A gap on Sundays. We shouldn’t be afraid of what he has to say.
It’s uncomfortable, but building a wall between us and sports puts us on the wrong side of history. Some athletes prefer to let their play do the talking, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when a few athletes challenge us to think about a few of the complex, human issues of our time, we should at least listen first, then make up our minds about what they say.