Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field on August 18, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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Lightning Rod Defensive End Michael Bennett Opens Up About Activism

“I love the opportunity to be able to change the world, to have dialogue with somebody.”

Called a “vocal and visible defender” of Colin Kaepernick’s sideline protests of police brutality, GQ recently profiled Michael Bennett, asking him tough questions about his new book Things That Make White People Uncomfortable, his experiences with racial profiling, and the struggle to be seen as both an athlete and an intellectual with a family and life outside of the field. Traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason, see the interview’s highlights below.

GQ: In the book you talk about how people just want you to play football and not really be yourself. How did you come to a place where you became confident in being yourself?

Michael Bennett: I think I always had a sense of being myself. I grew up with a lot of people who if your breath stinks, they’d tell you your breath stinks. And I think the older you get, the less you start to care about the perception of what people think. In a world where everything is built on perception, you have to start slowly by pulling yourself off of it.

GQ: It also feels like back then you could joke and also be serious. And now it feels like if you’re joking, people will use that as a way to undermine your seriousness, right?

MB: Exactly. The first thing when I sit down: “So what do you think about the new NFL policy?” I’m like, I just don’t know what the f-ck tell you. People say, “So would you go to the White House?” And I’m like, “Yeah, we’ll go.” And they’re like, “Why? You love Trump.” No, I don’t love Trump. I love the opportunity to be able to change the world, to have dialogue with somebody. So it’s like you are put into a box and that’s the thing you got to be careful of.

GQ: What’s a way that the NFL could go about helping their players be seen as more human?

MB: I don’t know. When somebody posts something wearing a jersey you might get 60,000 likes. If somebody posts something about their family it’s like, “Move on.” People don’t recognize those parts of people. They only associate them for being one thing, but everybody is multiple things. Why do athletes only get seen for one compartment of their life? When we take chances and risks to be human and share ourselves and our vulnerability, people shouldn’t judge.

Read the full story at GQ