Carroll said he supports Bennett, but 'I think we should all be standing' during anthem

RENTON, Wash. - Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday that he doesn’t agree with Michael Bennett’s decision to sit during the national anthem, but does support his right to do so.

During his post-practice press conference at the VMAC, Carroll said Bennett’s action before Seattle’s game against the L.A. Chargers on Sunday came as a surprise.

“I support the heck out of him and his concerns and issues and all that,” Carroll said. “When it comes to it, I love our country and I think we should stand for our opportunities when the flag is represented. But his heart is in the right place, and he’s going to do great work well after the time that he's with us and it’s easy for me to support him in all his issues.

“But I think we should all be standing up when we’re playing the national anthem.”

The rest of the team followed last season’s tradition of linking arms on the sideline during the anthem, but Bennett followed former teammate Marshawn Lynch’s lead the night before and sat with a towel over his head.

Receiver Doug Baldwin said he supported Bennett’s decision, and said he’s considering doing the same.

“There’s things going on in our communities that people don’t agree with,” Baldwin said. “Who am I, or who are we, to tell individuals that are in these communities that their opinions, their thoughts, are wrong. I firmly believe that the purpose – the thought behind everything – is to better our society. It’s not to be divisive, it’s not to be negative.

“I fully support Mike and his message and his thoughts, and definitely the way he went about it.”

Carroll said he’ll have an ongoing conversation with Bennett about how to best manage the fallout from sitting out the anthem, and Baldwin said he and other teammates will soon have a conversation with Bennett about how the rest of the team will proceed.

“There’s a lot more I want to say about it, but I won’t use this platform in this moment to say it because I’ve been advised not,” Baldwin said. “And out of respect for this organization, I’ll do that.

“However, I think it’s bigger than that. It’s much bigger than that.”

Baldwin questioned why Bennett has been villainized for the decision, saying he frequently sees drunk fans wearing hats during the anthem before Seahawks games. He said he’s not concerned with fans who turn away from football over players sitting or kneeling during the anthem.

“If you want to stop watching the game because a guy feels strongly about a very serious topic going on in our society, well then that’s your choice,” Baldwin said. “You have a right to freedom of speech.”