Colin Kaepernick made waves when he protested police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, but retired tight end Martellus Bennett believes the conversation would have been different if a white quarterback was the one to do it.
"If [white quarterbacks] were to take a knee with Kaepernick, that conversation would totally change," Bennett said during a Thursday discussion hosted by The Atlantic (h/t Tom Schad of USA Today). "If Tom Brady took a knee, white America would be like, 'Oh my God! What is this that Tom Brady's talking about?' They would start doing research and would join in the conversation. ... It would pique their interest. But since it's a black guy taking a knee, it's like, 'Alright, these guys, here he goes again. It's another one of these guys out there doing this.'"
Schad noted Bennett sat on the bench during the national anthem before one game in 2017 and raised a fist after another.
While a number of players knelt during the anthem during the past few years—especially after Donald Trump raised the issue during speeches—Kaepernick made the most headlines as the first.