By MARQUES EVERSOLL
Martellus Bennett is a fun dude. And he put that big personality on display during his first media availability in the Packers locker room.
“I may not be a team captain,” Bennett said. “But I am the captain of fun.”
I’m not sure there’s ever been an official Fun Captain in an NFL locker room, but if there was, Bennett would wear the patch. Earlier this offseason, Bennett was critical of the NFL’s idea of an “instructional video” on how players should (or shouldn’t) celebrate. After all, Bennett believes players should be allowed to express their own individuality, even though he, personally, doesn’t do much chest-pumping.
“I don’t really celebrate, I just like to see other guys celebrate,” Bennett said. “I like it when Odell (Beckham) dances and does all that cool stuff they do, all that young buck stuff … I just feel like it took 10 other guys to help me score, so I’m not the a guy that points to the back of my jersey or stuff like that. Every once in a while, I’ll do a wiggle if my daughter asks me to do something, but other than that, I don’t do much.”
The NFL announced Tuesday that they’d be more lenient on celebrations, allowing players to use the football as a prop, and go to the ground to celebrate. A change that’s likely to result in more “fun” — something Bennett is willing to take credit for.
“They listened to me,” Bennett said. “I feel like I did that for the people. I’m the people’s champ, I did that for the players in the league. I mean, they won’t give me my props, but you know, sometimes you gotta pay homage, guys.”
Whether the NFL tips its cap to Bennett or not, he’s a welcome addition to the Packers. He fills the hole left by Jared Cook as the No. 1 tight end, and Rodgers said he expects him to bring a new attitude and confidence to the team. And while he has yet to practice in a Packers uniforms in pads, it’s clear that Bennett has already become a go-to guy in the locker room.
“It’s funny I get paid to do this,” Bennett said. “I feel like I’m stealing every day.”
Bennett signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Packers this offseason, including $6.3 million guaranteed. Now entering his 10th season at age 30, the Packers will be Bennett’s fifth NFL team. He won his first Super Bowl ring last year with the New England Patriots, and now he’s hungry for more.
“For a long time, it’s you have this idea of something, it’s like this beautiful thing out there, but you’ve never seen it, never really touched it, or you may see it in pictures, watch it on TV, but when you’re in that moment, and you get to enjoy it, and you get to experience it, then you have taste, and you’re like, ‘this is why I do this’ … before then, it’s just a myth.”
For the Packers, a second Super Bowl berth in the Rodgers Era has been elusive. Since winning Super Bowl XLV to cap off the 2010 season, the Packers have had a 15-1 season, and lost in the NFC Championship twice. While the offense hasn’t been the problem, it never hurts to give a two-time MVP quarterback another weapon.
For Bennett, going from Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers at quarterback was like, in his words, “leaving J-Lo and going to Halle Berry.”
Martellus Bennett says he texts a lot of emojis and GIFs to Aaron Rodgers. And stuff like “I like chocolate chip cookies.” #Packers
— Marques Eversoll (@MarquesEversoll) May 23, 2017
For the Packers at tight end, going from Jared Cook to Martellus Bennett is like ditching a non-fictional biography in favor of a “fantastical adventure.” (Which is the kind of book Bennett prefers.)
In roughly 11 minutes in front of his locker, the Packers’ new No. 80 had the media eating out of the palm of his hand. He’s an entertaining guy with a magnetic personality. And if he wants to be called the Captain of Fun, then he won’t get too much push-back.
“I know a little bit about a lot, but I don’t know a lot about anything,” Bennett said. “I think when people see me, the first thing they do is smile because they don’t know what the hell I’m gonna say next.”
Marques Eversoll hosts “Air it Out” (9-11 AM) weekday mornings, and co-hosts and produces “SportsLine” (4-6) PM weekday afternoons. He’s on Twitter @MarquesEversoll, and accessible via email at Marques.Eversoll@cumulus.com.