At Alief Taylor High School, Michael Bennett earned first-team all-district honors as a defensive lineman as a senior, and earned a scholarship to play football at Texas A&M where he eventually became a full-time starter in 2008. He recorded 42 tackles, 12 TFL and two sacks that year, but he was also named honorable mention All-Big 12 by the coaches in 2007 despite starting only one game. Michael originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Seahawks on April 26, 2009, but was claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off waivers from the Seahawks on October 12, 2009.
He made his NFL debut against the Carolina Panthers that year and notched his first-career tackle vs. New England on October 25, 2009. Michael’s first-career sack was against Aaron Rodgers in 2009 and quickly became a leader on the Bucs defense with nine sacks in 2012, which ranked 23rd in the NFL and 14th in the NFC.
This led to the Seahawks resigning Michael in 2013, solidifying himself as one of the NFL’s best defensive ends with over 45 sacks, eight forced fumbles and three pass deflections.
Michael is a two-time Pro Bowler, Pro Bowl MVP, Super Bowl Champion, two-time NFC Champion and PFWC All-Team selection. And he’s not done yet.
When Michael entered the NFL, rigorous performance training taught him the importance of eating nutritiously and how vital it is not only to maintaining fitness, but overall well-being. With Michael and his wife Pele being raised in Texas, they grew up in a lower income area and witnessed family and friends struggle with obesity and staying healthy.
Michael and Pele Bennett decided there was an immediate need to establish The Bennett Foundation and focus their efforts on underserved and minority communities through health and nutrition.
The Bennett Foundation educates underserved children and communities through free, accessible programming in Hawaii, Washington, Texas and now globally. The Foundation’s O.C.E.A.N. Health Fest impacts thousands of people each year by offering free health screenings, fitness activities, cooking demonstrations, and much more. Currently, The Bennett Foundation is fostering partnerships with The Hope Heart Institute, Seattle Tilth, Washington Green Schools, the Interagency Academy, STEM programming with #iamtheCODE, and most recently afterschool nutritional programming to provide over 20,000 meals in partnership with HCAP. Through these ongoing efforts, The Bennett Foundation empowers parents, and provides children with tools to lead healthier lives.
In 2017, Michael announced he would donate all of his endorsement money to help rebuild minority communities through s.t.e.a.m programs, as well as initiatives that directly affect women of color in order to create more opportunities for youth and build a brighter future. In addition, 50% of the proceeds from his jersey sales would go to programs and initiatives to support inner-city garden projects, as it’s not only about providing opportunities in education and arts, but to help provide the right nutrition and access to healthy living to all.
This past off-season, Michael wrote a New York Times best-selling book titled, “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable,” and also visited Senegal where he sponsors 100 African girls through his partnership with #iamtheCODE. This trip was particularly significant for Michael, as he learned through African Ancestry .com earlier in the year that he is Senegalese, making the trip a spiritual and eye opening experience for him.
Michael teamed up with Macklemore recently to also purchase copies of "Teaching For Black Lives" for teachers in Seattle Public Schools. He also held a girls empowerment summit in Seattle earlier this year titled “Breaking Barriers” with Patrisse Cullors, Jami DeBrango, Linda Sarsour, and Maya Wiley. He is a proud member of Athletes for Impact with fellow activists Dr. John Carlos, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Maya Moore, Laila Ali and Etan Thomas.
The Bennett Foundation MISSION
Fighting Obesity Through Community, Education, Activity, and Nutrition