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Michael Bennett accuses Stephen A. Smith of playing 'the clown' in escalating feud

For The Win logo For The Win 5/19/2017 Charles Curtis

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First Take pundit Stephen A. Smith has always taken quarterback Colin Kaepernick to task for not voting in the 2016 election, going so far as to call him "a flaming hypocrite" after all the statements and kneeling in protest the QB did last season.

Now, that same argument has ignited a war of words between him and Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who has advocated for his franchise to sign Kaepernick.

Smith's response came earlier this week on First Take, and he cited the fact that Kaepernick didn't vote and that it was the QB's "irresponsible stance in choosing to publicize that reality." Bennett, Smith said, failed "to take that into consideration":

"So go ahead and root for Kaepernick to get a job. Get him to Seattle, Michael Bennett. Remind the world he's truly a talent any NFL team should consider. But if you're gonna delve further and try to treat him like he's some kind of martyr, do me a favor: Remember the real ones that represented first, not just the ones you happen to be pretty damn cool with."

Here's how Bennett responded on Wednesday:

Back to Smith on Thursday, who talked at length about how "voting is the No. 1 instrument of change we have in this country":

Bennett used his Instagram account on Thursday to craft a much longer response:

"Despite your words, I want this interaction to be positive. We can agree on one thing, voting is important, and I never said it wasn't. But, it's so easy to talk on television and not get your hands dirty actually doing the real work. It's so easy to divide people by playing on fears and lies instead of trying to highlight the hard work that athletes do in the community. I know by responding to you I'm just making your job easier by giving you something else to yell about tomorrow, but you are spreading so much ignorance that it's hard to be silent. You tell us we don't know anything, but we stand alongside people who have dedicated their lives to try and make change. We're stepping out on our platform to make a real, substantial impact, while you play the clown. You say we don't know anything, yet we are the ones sitting down and talking with Angela Davis, John Carlos and community activists you don't even know. These are people whose respect we care about a great deal more than someone who gets paid for just being loud. I have spent countless hours in minority communities from orphanages in Haiti to juvenile detention centers in this country, building community gardens so our young people living in "food deserts" without anywhere to buy food other than a corner store, have better nutrition. Please be a better person- other than someone who is just all talk and no action. I encourage you to join me, in person and checkbook, and help build up our communities."

And finally, here's Smith's response to that long message on Friday. He said was more than happy to take Bennett up on his offer to join them, and that he's given ample money to African-American causes for years. He also talked about big names who he's interacted with:

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He ended with this:

"As a provocateur of dialogue, I go about the business of trying to give a voice to the voiceless and to make sure that things and issues that need to be heard and talked about are talked about. It's why the Michael Bennetts of the world matter because you have individuals like me who point to individuals like him and say he should matter. I have never said that athletes don't know anything. I have never denigrated athletes in that regard. I have a resume spanning almost 25 years where I have been an adamant supporter of athletes and the charitable things they do. Unfortunately, we live in a time when you're so sensitive to every little thing that's said that you want to gloss over that. But you play football on Sundays. I sit up here every day and I will continue to do exactly what I've been doing. And if you want to try to minimize it, good luck with that. It won't work."


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