(CNN) — NFL defensive end Michael Bennett isn’t buying comments from Commissioner Roger Goodell last week that the league believes Black Lives Matter.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Bennett, a free agent, said Goodell’s video statement was “almost like a slap in the face.”
“Black talent has been exploited at a high level in the NFL” for decades, Bennett said in the interview, published Friday. “He knows Black Lives Matter, because without black players, the NFL wouldn’t be as lucrative as it is.”
In his video statement, Goodell said the league should have listened earlier to players’ concerns about racism. But he did not mention former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has not been offered a contract after receiving backlash for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
Bennett told the Daily Beast the NFL’s actions need to match Goodell’s statement.
“Is the intent of the NFL to really make a positive impact or is it not to be seen as if they don’t respect the players?” Bennett asked.
“We have to continuously push the NFL to change its core values and change its moral compass on a consistent basis,” he said of NFL players. “If not, shame on us and shame us for real. We have the opportunity to hold Roger Goodell and the rest of the bosses” to account, he said.
Bennett has long been outspoken on racial issues, publishing a book in 2018 titled, “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable,” in which he discussed racism, police brutality and the role of black athletes as political activists.
In 2017, while playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Bennett told CNN he would not stand for the national anthem until he saw “equality and freedom.” But he stood for the anthem in 2019 as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, he said, because his teammates asked him to.
Additionally, Bennett said PR efforts were not enough to forget some NFL owners’ backing of President Donald Trump.
“If you’re supporting him, then your letter is really null and void,” he said.
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