(CBS News) - Dallas Cowboys defensive end Michael Bennett said his new teammates convinced him to stand during the national anthem, reversing his earlier decision to sit on the bench or stay in the locker room while the anthem played. In protest of police brutality, Bennett did not stand during the national anthem for the past two NFL seasons.
Bennett, who was traded from the New England Patriots more than two weeks ago, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Monday that his new decision to stand during the anthem doesn't diminish what's he's advocated for.
“This... doesn’t take away what I have done... and the stances that I took, the death threats I have had on my life. I have done it all,” Bennett said. “I don’t think it makes me less of a person or makes them less of people. At the end of the day, people get caught into certain things and don’t get caught up into what people are doing to change society. We all are men. We are all trying to figure it out. None of us are finished products when it comes to society.”
Bennett, 33, sat during the anthem as a member of the Seattle Seahawks in 2017. He stayed in the locker room when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles last season and the Patriots earlier this year. Before he was traded to Dallas, the Cowboys reportedly discussed the issue with him and reached an agreement.
But Bennett didn't link his decision to a formal agreement with the Cowboys — instead, he said, he was swayed by his teammates.
"I feel at this point in my career if my teammates asked me to do something and I can do it," he said. "I know people want make it what it what they want to. I don't know what to tell them."
Bennett added he will continue to spread awareness about the injustices against people of color. He's in discussions to teach a class on racism at an Ivy League school, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“I have always stood on what I have believed in every single situation whether it’s with Donald Trump, whether it was with the police, whether it was with police brutality, how women of color have been treated, how much money I have donated to different things, the causes I have stood up with, the people I have stood with,” he said. “It doesn’t make me less of a person.”