Casual football fans might know who Russell Wilson is, or perhaps they know Richard “I’m the best corner in the game!” Sherman, and they’ve probably heard about Marshawn Lynch, the former running back who had a Skittles addiction. But, they probably don't know Michael Bennett, the badass defensive lineman. And they should. Because in addition to being a badass on the field, he is also a badass human. Let us count the ways.
1. He’s a Bernie fan. When it comes to politics, most football players err on the side of caution. They are mind-numbingly predictable, vanilla, and apolitical. But last year, Bennett showed up at a post-game press conference donning a Bernie Sanders hat and pin. He told the press: “I just like a lot of the things that he talks about, social injustice, the things about climate control and just a lot of different things that he does,’’ Bennett said. “I just think he’s an honest guy and one of the main people that really has a platform to really tell the truth to the people. And I think that’s what people need to hear is the honest truth and not so much hate from like Donald Trump and people like that and not so much about war but improving the people and improving the economy and just living good.”
2. He knows how to celebrate. After the Seahawks miraculously won the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers in 2015, Bennett swiped a bike from the Seattle Police Department and took it for a joyride around Century Link Field.
3. He’s charitable. He auctioned that bike for $10,000 to benefit the Seattle Police Foundation and OCEAN and later started his own charity aimed at childhood obesity, the Bennett Foundation.
4. He’s got an awesome Twitter handle, @mosesbread72, which he explains thus: “"I like Moses' beard, and I like bread.” OK, then.
5. He supports Black Lives Matter: He’s worn Black Lives Matter shirts at press conferences and has engaged in lengthy discussions about the movement, addressing the take of his teammate Richard Sherman (who has a more conservative view), as well as the press. He told ESPN:
“But a lot of things in the NFL are so broken. You don't see a lot of great players talking about things socially, whether it's Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, all of these guys, they're white. They don't have to deal with the things that we deal with as black players, so it's not as many.
"In the NBA, everybody is standing up for it, so the greatest players are in the forefront of the movement. Here in the NFL, the greatest players aren't in the forefront of the movement. Whether it's the CBA, whether it's things going on with trying to change the way — concussions. The greatest players aren't involved like LeBron James, Chris Paul and all these guys [in the NBA]. Our great players are sitting back just taking the dollars, whether it's Cam Newton, all these guys. They're not really on the forefront of trying to change what's going on."
6. He started a book club for the players on the team. The first book is Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.
He told ESPN: "I think 'Outliers' is the perfect book for us because we are outliers when you think of the sense of what we’ve been through and who we are and the situation we were born in," Bennett said. "For us, everything that we built up, that whole 10,000 hours of doing what we’ve been doing to be great at this moment, it’s definitely us when it comes to that.
7. He is a never-ending quote machine: Press conferences with Michael Bennett are never boring. One classic: “I'm the Michael Phelps of eating chicken, man. I've got eight chicken medals, man. In Beijing!”
8. He’s got a cool beard, not to be confused with a hipster beard. He says: "I really want to look like the richest homeless person I've ever seen."
9. His signs his autographs with “Black Santa.” I don’t know what else to say except, that if Santa is the giver of great gifts, then Michael Bennett is definitely Black Santa.
10. When he accepted the award for Seattle Male Sports Star of the Year, he wore this outfit:
Michael Bennett, keep doing you.