UPDATE: After Bennett and Stills decided to back out of the trip sponsored by the Israeli government, Justin Forsett, running back for the Denver Broncos, announced on Twitter that he would also be skipping it.
We made the decision before all this info came out.— Justin Forsett (@JForsett) February 11, 2017
In the end, only five of the 11 NFL players turned up for the all-expenses paid trip, embarrassing Israel for the botched attempt at improving its image.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) thanked Michael Bennett on Twitter for supporting equality and justice.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett announced on Twitter he will not go to a planned NFL trip to Israel sponsored by the Israeli government.
Im not going to Israel pic.twitter.com/KWzA0nCiFb— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) February 10, 2017
In his next tweet, he gave a heartfelt reason for his decision.
Bennett explained he was initially excited about the trip, but once he found out he will be a brand ambassador of goodwill, he backed out. He mentioned he wanted to be “the voice of the voiceless,” referring to the people suffering from abuse in Israel – he did not want to be used as a pawn by either of the governments.
"I will not be used in such a manner," he wrote.
He further cited boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who stood for the distressed people of Palestine.
The athlete’s decision came after an open letter from athlete-activist organizations made rounds on internet, requesting all NFL players to skip Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu’s sponsored trip.
The letter focused on how the Palestinian, Eritrean and Sudanese communities in the region were treated, connecting their struggle with the African-American and other minority communities in the U.S.
Seahawks defender’s brother Martellus Bennett, the tight end for the New England Patriots, has also reportedly decided to not go forward with the trip.
Soon after Bennett’s tweet, another NFL player Kenny Stills supported his teammate’s decision and said he was with him.
Couldn't have said it any better. I'm in! https://t.co/F1vFBVJlmR— Kenny Stills (@KSTiLLS) February 11, 2017
The 29-year-old was also in the lead to skip celebratory white house visit after the epic Super Bowl LI win, six team mates followed his lead since boycotting President Donald Trump’s prejudice against minorities in the United States.
This is not the first NFL players have made headlines for taking a political, or in Bennett's case, humane, stance.
Not too long ago, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem ahead of the football match to make a statement against racism in the U.S.
His actions sparked a movement, inspiring several other athletes, both professional and amateur, to follow in his footsteps.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: Reuters, Wikipedia