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At age 11, in Independence, Louisiana, Michael Bennett lifted a tractor with his bare hands to keep it from falling on his grandfather. His astonished cousins stared, motionless, till one finally said, “You strong as fuck!”
On Sunday, a small group of National Football League players risked their careers, their endorsements and their livelihoods. They did so through the simple act of refusal. They stood in the proudest tradition of athletes who have used their platforms for social change, and they have already felt a backlash that would ring familiar, almost note-for-note, to anyone acquainted with what that last generation had to endure.