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Rival Report 8/1: Seahawks DE Michael Bennett calls for fellow NFL stars to speak out on social issues

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett is one of the more outspoken players that the NFL has ever seen. He is always talking, for better or worse, and now he is calling for more NFL stars to do the same. There is no doubt in today's social media world that athletes can help facilitate change by lending their powerful voices to issues, but NFL stars haven't really done that.

It's not just idle talk from Bennett, he is a player known for speaking his mind on issues and also for his ample community service programs that he is a part of. He is an honest, no nonsense person who clearly enjoys using his celebrity profile for the greater good.

"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," Bennett said to ESPN during a training camp interview. "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."

He later reportedly called Cam Newton to say that he didn't mean to single him out individually, that he was simply trying to make a point about how the NFL stars need to be louder on social issues. That type of thing shows how sincere and intelligent Bennett is because he knows how easily quotes like this can be taken out of context. He didn't want his message to be misconstrued as an attack, because that's not what he is trying to do at all.

His words are not about calling out any specific player like Cam Newton, who is known for his generous community work as well. They are broader than that, they are a call to stars to use their popularity to help the world heal. I respect Michael Bennett a lot for his willingness to say things like this, he would make a great Raider one day if he were to leave the Seattle Seahawks.

You might remember that early this off-season Bennett had already been in the news when he called out Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry for the amount of money he was charging kids to attend his basketball camp. He reiterated that his intent on calling Curry out was not so much about money, but about encouraging athletes to give back to kids that don't have as many opportunities in life.

"As athletes, we need to start controlling that influence and keep it positive and not always about dollar to dollar. Finding a way to make something sustainable so when we're in the community, make a sustainable event, make a sustainable thing in the community, not so much about money," Bennett said. "That's the whole thing I had about the thing with Stephen Curry. It was not about the money aspect. It was about creating something for kids where they can learn and want to give back."

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