The commissioner of the NFL issued a statement of support for Michael Bennett late on Wednesday, and in his statement there’s a distinct echo of the most vilified man in his league.
The sports world was rattled on Wednesday as Bennett, one of the more respected players in football, wrote a frightening social media post about being driven to the ground by police in Las Vegas after gunshots were heard on the night of the Mayweather-McGregor fight. The Seahawks star insisted that he was singled out for the color of his skin, and threatened with a gun.
“I felt helpless as I lay there on the ground handcuffed facing the real-life threat of being killed,” Bennett wrote, “All I could think of was ‘I’m going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat.’ ”
It was a real-life example of what many African-Americans feel: the fear of being treated with lethal force by a police officer. And soon after skeptics on social media started questioning his story, video emerged of Bennett, prone and cuffed, asking an officer what he had done wrong.
Later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a supportive statement: “Michael Bennett represents the best of the NFL – a leader on his team and in his community. Our foremost concern is the welfare of Michael and his family. While we understand the Las Vegas police department will address this later in the evening, the issues Michael has been raising deserve serious attention from all of our leaders in every community.”
The issues Bennett has been raising are also the issues Colin Kaepernick has been raising for more than a year: police behavior where minorities are involved, and accountability for that behavior. Kaepernick’s tone has not shifted from last year. But here, the commissioner’s tone has.