RENTON, Wash. – Cliff Avril said he’d never seen teammate and friend Michael Bennett as shaken as he was in the early hours of Aug. 27 in Las Vegas.
“When I actually walked up and he opened the door I was like, ‘Whoa, they really did get after you a little bit. They really did rough you up a little bit,’ ” Avril said Wednesday. “Then just talked to him for a couple of hours trying to calm him down more so than anything.”
Bennett received significant support from his Seattle Seahawks teammates on Wednesday, hours after his statement alleging racially motivated excessive force by the Las Vegas police. Bennett said he was threatened at gunpoint and handcuffed following a report of gunshots at an after-hours club at a casino-hotel. He was released without charges.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll read a statement supporting Bennett and said he learned about the incident the morning after.
“He’s been anxious to take this next step. He’s been holding on to this for a while,” Carroll said. “I think this will help him at this point to make sure it’s out there and he’s made his statement. It’s been a topic for us. You can tell it’s hanging with him.”
Avril and Bennett had gone to Las Vegas for the fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather during a break from training camp. They separated following the fight and it was about an hour after Bennett was detained that Avril heard from his teammate.
“That was the biggest thing with him. I wanted him to call his family … where his mind was and what he could have done, I didn’t want him to make the wrong move,” Avril said. “That was my advice to him. Just let’s think this thing through, talk to your wife and come up with a game plan on how you want to approach this.”
Bennett spoke with some teammates regarding what happened, but others did not know until his Bennett released his statement on Twitter on Wednesday morning.
Center Justin Britt was one of those. Britt has supported Bennett, who has sat during the national anthem during the preseason. During each of the final three preseason games, Britt stood next to Bennett with his hand on Bennett’s shoulder for the anthem.
“Money doesn’t change the fact that it still happens,” Britt said. “The fact that Mike believes in equality for all and justice and liberty, it’s just another statement of what is going on in the world.”