New England Patriots player says he will remain in locker room during anthem next season
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Recently acquired New England Patriots player Michael Bennett said he would remain in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem before games next season.

Bennett has been an outspoken supporter of the social justice movement that gained prominence nationally when several players, most notably former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, knelt during the anthem to raise awareness of police brutality toward people of color.

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Throughout the 2018 NFL season, Bennett opted to stay in the locker room during the anthem and said he plans to continue to do so as a member of the Patriots, something he told the team before he was acquired, according to ESPN.

"[What] I explained to them is that my integrity means everything," Bennett told ESPN on Monday. "I think they respect that about me. They respect who I am as an individual." 

During a game early in the 2017 season, several Patriots players knelt together during the anthem.

The NFL adopted a new rule in 2018 following the anthem controversy the previous season that said players and team personnel must either stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room. The rule was later put on hold.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is widely known as a supporter of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE, who has criticized players for kneeling during the anthem.

Additionally, Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady has previously shown support for Trump.

Bennett said he is happy to be a part of the Patriots organization and looks forward to conversations with the team about the controversial protests.

"I think it's important not to to run away from those conversations, or not hear their ideas about why they think the way they do," Bennett told ESPN. "I think it's an opportunity for growth to have those conversations. If we don't allow ourselves to have those conversations, we're stunting our growth."

Bennett added that the Patriots organization had been trying to trade for him for years.