Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett shared an impromptu conversation with a group of military veterans outside Seahawks headquarters Tuesday. It brought the military wife who witnessed it to tears, causing the veterans and Bennett to approach and comfort her.
It comes after a weekend in which hundreds of NFL players protested during the national anthem over racial and social injustice, moved in large part by President Donald Trump. The President last week called out athletes who don't stand during the anthem, saying they are disrespecting the flag and veterans.
There are hard feelings and an ever-widening gap on the issue.
Dayna Coats, who lives right next to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC) wrote about the Bennett encounter on Facebook Tuesday and talked about it more on Wednesday.
"I don't if it just felt like, maybe, a glimmer of hope," Coats said.
Michael Bennett has been one of those players who has protested all season during the anthem, sitting on the bench during the ceremony.
Coats said she saw a car stopped on the side of the road and another in the middle of the road. A a small crowd of people were standing nearby. She took a photo, thinking it was a car accident.
As she got closer, she realized it was a group of military veterans.
"The ones that I saw up-close seemed to be in their senior years... and probably seen some active duty battlefields," Coats said.
The car in the road belonged to Bennett, who was headed to practice. Coats said Bennett saw the veterans and stopped to have a conversation.
As she drove by, Coats writes she saw Bennett and a veteran shaking hands and smiling.
"That image brought an unexpected wave of extreme emotion over me and I instantly and almost uncontrollably started bawling," Coats wrote, adding she had to pull over to regain her composure.
"As the wife of somebody who's been serving 33 years in the military, My father is a veteran, was in the Army. My father-in-law was a Marine. My brother-in-law was a Marine. I have relatives who are police officers. It really, literally made me cry," Coats said Wednesday.
That brought the veterans and Bennett to her car to make sure she was OK. That's when Coats wrote that she told Bennett what was in her heart.
"I simply said, 'Michael, I am so torn and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to disrespect our country, our flag or my husband who’s in the military but I want to understand. I’m a big Seahawks fan and I don’t know what to do,'" Coats wrote on Facebook.
She wrote Bennett reached in and hugged her. That led to a 20-minute conversation in which Coats said she mostly just listened. She wrote that Bennett told her that he too has family in the military and expressed things that she believed were in his heart.
"The word unity was used several times and he admitted he didn’t know where to go from here. I do not know either. Nor do I know what the correct answers are… but I do know, I am thankful for those veterans and thankful Michael stopped to talk with them…and inadvertently me," Coats wrote.