<
>

Michael Bennett setting up book club for Seahawks players

RENTON, Wash. -- Entering his fourth season with the Seattle Seahawks, defensive end Michael Bennett wants to try something new with his teammates: a book club.

"Try to get a book and try to have a good conversation about it," Bennett said. "Read a couple chapters and just go through it. ‘What’s your take on it? What’s your opinion on it?'

"It’s going to be pretty cool."

Bennett pitched the idea to Seahawks vice president of player engagement Maurice Kelly, and Kelly liked what he heard. The first book on the list is "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell.

"People think that he just talks, but he does research," Kelly said of Bennett. "He reads a lot. He’s not just talking to be talking, just to hear himself. Sometimes it comes across as if he’s just talking just to hear himself talk. But he knows his history. He leaves his books all over the damn place. I see ‘em in my office all the time."

Having played seven years in the league, Bennett is a veteran voice in the locker room. Now his challenge will be to get his teammates to buy in to the book club idea.

"They have been receptive," Bennett said. "I tell them don’t waste too much time staying on the phone all the time. Every once in awhile, open up a book."

Added Kelly: "I asked him about that, and he had already asked a couple guys, and the guys were interested in it. I don’t know if they were just interested because he said it or just interested because they like to read," he said with a laugh. "Either way you look at it ... it doesn’t matter. As long as we can get them engaged.

"It’s good to get the conversation started, to get the guys out there, have them reading more and to just discuss it, discuss different ideas. I think it opens things up to have discussion, which I think is really, really big."

The choice for the first book was Bennett's, and he picked one that he's already read.

"I think 'Outliers' is the perfect book for us because we are outliers when you think of the sense of what we’ve been through and who we are and the situation we were born in," Bennett said. "For us, everything that we built up, that whole 10,000 hours of doing what we’ve been doing to be great at this moment, it’s definitely us when it comes to that.

"I think the book is really good for all these young guys to read something like that and all the stuff that Bill Gates has been through, Paul Allen. All these guys and how they overcame the situation that they came through."

Bennett has often said that athletes -- and specifically football players -- need to speak up more about social issues. Kelly encourages that too, but reminds them that whatever they say will be examined closely. He sees the book club as a way for Seahawks players to think in non-football terms and educate themselves.

"I see a lot of guys talking the talk when it’s something that’s not very important, something that goes on that’s not really impactful to everybody," Kelly said. "You see guys make comments on Twitter or have things to say about things that aren’t important. What about things that are impactful to everybody? We don’t say anything about those things.

"But I challenge guys that way. If y’all really want to talk about something, talk about something that’s meaningful. These guys are not shy about it. It’s not a deal where you try to force them to do things that they’re not comfortable with. But if you’ve done the research, if you’ve enlightened yourself on what it is that’s going on, then you can talk about it. It’s not meaning that you have the answers to everything, but to open up conversation.

"It’s a good thing, kind of taking everybody out of their comfort zone. I don’t know too many guys who read a lot of books. Mike reads. But to put the onus on everybody else, to challenge everybody else, I’m accepting the challenge."