MEET MARTELLUS BENNETT
As one of the top tight ends in the league, Martellus Bennett could rest his laurels on championship rings and fantasy stats. But he’s not about to let anyone define his limits.
In a sport where athletes are mostly prompted to be seen and not heard— unless they are solely interested in being bionic supermen who sign touchdown balls and sing harmless jingles for State Farm— Martellus ruffles feathers and speaks his mind. And his mind, happens to be a brilliant one.
Martellus is a children’s author, and penned his first book, Hey A.J. It’s Saturday last year, through his own company, The Imagination Agency. He’ll suit up for the Green Bay Packers this season, but Martellus helped the New England Patriots clinch a Super Bowl win in 2017 against the Atlanta Falcons in the hugest comeback game in Super Bowl history. But step into his home and you won’t find a wall with all of his NFL merits— instead you’ll find a basement set up like FAO Schwartz, complete with a ping pong table, a Cap’n Crunch doll and a poster of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
In interviews, he’s compared himself to Kim Kardashian, Mahatma Gandhi, and Atlas… yes, the Greek god, Atlas. Needless to say, he’s not easily reeled in by coaches in press conferences. When he gets out of hand, his wife Siggi pokes him in the ribs.
The creative adult is the kid who survived.
But the beauty of Martellus Bennett is that he isn’t afraid to speak up when it matters, even if it makes others in his sport uncomfortable. While his former teammate Tom Brady recently stated that his health record are no one’s business when asked about the effect CTE may have had on him during his career, Martellus made it unapologetically clear. “I ain’t dying for this sh-t,” he tweeted after Jets Rookie Jamal Adams told ESPN.com that he would be fine dying on the football field.
And in one player… you get a techie nerd who knows his worth, a total cheeser who isn’t afraid to wear a cheese head on the Packers field, but will spar toe to toe when it comes to his beliefs. And he’s a dreamer. He encourages Black kids to draw, dream, believe in actual magic, and not accept the parameters of who and what an athlete should be. “The creative adult is the kid who survived,” he explains to VICE. “If Walt Disney can do it, then why not me?” He is keyed in that society just sees him as a nameless number, and defiantly pursues childhood dreams despite who he should be and what he should want as a baller.
It’s hard not to be inspired by the mind of Martellus. To get to know more about him off the field, his TED event will inspire you to dust off those dreams you dimmed because of someone else’s perception. Bring them back, and keep your head in the clouds, as you watch below.
MEET MICHAEL BENNETT
You’re not supposed to have a personality.
You’re not supposed to take your helmet off.
You’re not supposed to wear whatever cleats you want.
You’re not supposed to celebrate after running 60 yards untouched by a 350 pound lineman.
In a league full of rules that make it hard to showcase true personality, Michael Bennett—one of the NFL’s best pass rushers— has remained quiet, confident and made a name for himself. Born in ’85, 31-year-old Bennett is barely a year older than his cheese head of a little brother, Martellus.
Unlike Marty, Michael isn’t exclaiming that the coaches like the bitches or making sure kids know there’s a career in creativity with his Imagination Agency. Instead, the Seattle Seahawk is out sponsoring a rally for the family of a woman who was shot and killed by Seattle police last month and raising money throughout the upcoming NFL season to pay for scholarships for each of her three children.
But like a Bennett, he did commandeer a Seattle police officer’s bicycle and took a victory lap around Century Link Field after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game on January 18, 2015.
Though the older brother, it was he that had to play catch up. He went undrafted in 2009 after playing alongside his brother for three seasons at Texas A&M, was waived by the Seattle Seahawks just two months into the season and tore his rotator cuff. His appendix even ruptured at 10 years old.
But hey, he did win a Super Bowl before his kid brother— and he’s using that extra boost of fame to help spread a message.
In a sport where players are losing endorsements and quarterback jobs for kneeling during a song that lasts 1:58 seconds, Bennett isn’t frightened to share his views publicly. He confronted his teammate Richard Sherman’s thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement, saying, “I think the black lives thing is more about the social injustice, not so much the injustice of people killing within the community, it’s about the social injustice of the people that is supposed to protect them, and building the community through the black community.”
And he’s just as vocal about what happens on the field, too.
As his brother laments that NFL stands for “Niggas For Lease,” Michael remarks that there are no Black NFL team owners, saying “We’re check getters, not check writers.”
Oh, and college players not getting money? He’s not feeling that either.
“Everybody gets paid except the people making the product. In some countries, they call that slavery,” he told ESPN.
And does he think NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is an asshole? Maybe. But for now, he’ll settle for calling him underpaid.
But the thought that he’s part of the 1.5 percent of football players that actually make it into the NFL isn’t lost on him, and it usually shines during hilarious— albeit weird —jokes.
Like that time he compared the Carolina Panthers to an attractive cousin, or how all NFL wins —including Super Bowls—feel the same, or how he never has sex the night before Thursday night football, or how he road around the field on a police bike after winning the NFC championship in 2015.
Michael Bennett may say a lot of weird things, and he sincerely means it all.
But thats a Bennett brother for you.