Super Bowl champion Michael Bennett was recently charged with a felony for an alleged assault that happened in February of 2017. Why now?
Last Friday, Harris County (Texas) District Attorney Kim Ogg announced that a grand jury had indicted Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett on a felony charge of injury to the elderly. According to Ogg, Bennett allegedly shoved a paraplegic 66-year-old employee of NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, the night of February 5, 2017 as he was storming the field to congratulate his brother, New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett in his Super Bowl victory. The charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In a press conference addressing the charges against Bennett, Houston Police Department chief Art Acevedo called the NFL star “morally bankrupt” and “morally corrupt.”
“I think it’s pretty pathetic that you’d put your hands on a 66-year-old paraplegic and treat them like they don’t exist,” Acevedo told reporters.
Michael Bennett — who won Super Bowl 48 with the Seattle Seahawks — was one of the players who joined in the protest against police brutality in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick by sitting during the national anthem.
“I can’t stand for the national anthem,” Bennett told CNN in August of 2017. “I can’t stand right now. I’m not going to be standing until I see the equality and freedom.”
However, the timing of the indictment against Bennett is highly questionable, given that Bennett’s new book, Things That Make White People Uncomfortable, is slated for release in April. The book, which is co-authored by The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin, is about Bennett’s journey as an NFL player speaking out about social justice.
It will be Black Santa's thoughts about, in his words, "the NFL, racism, sexism, intersectionality and athletes being no longer silenced."
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) July 24, 2017
Even though Bennett was scheduled to do a book signing at a bookstore in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood this Saturday, the signing has been postponed in the wake of the indictment. Haymarket Books, the publisher of Things That Make White People Uncomfortable, issued a statement proclaiming it was standing by the author despite the charges against him. The statement called Bennett’s indictment “absurd, curiously timed, and deadly serious.”
“We also question the timing of these charges, taking place as Michael has become more widely recognized as an outspoken opponent of police brutality and corruption and is about to release a book in which he speaks about why he chose to protest police violence and racial inequality during the national anthem over the course of the 2017 NFL season,” the statement read.
The statement in support of Michael Bennett has been co-signed by 19 people, including 1968 Olympian John Carlos, actor Danny Glover, Princeton professor Cornel West, and authors Angela Davis and Naomi Klein.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.