Chicago Bears' fans know that tight end Martellus Bennett is one of the most colorful personalities on the team. They may not always like what he has to say, they may not always like what he does, but he's going to stay true to himself regardless.
Bennett really has no filter when it comes to interviews and he often leaves the media shaking their heads and/or smiling when their questions set him off on tangents. His mind tends to go places that are unexpected out of a professional football player, but that's because he's more than a pro football player. He's part-story teller, part-businessman, part-movie maker, part-philosopher and part-whatever his mind takes him to on any given day.
Jeff Ruby of the Chicago magazine recently spent some time at Bennett's Long Grove, Illinois home to interview the enigmatic Bear in his article titled, The Wonderfully Weird World of Martellus Bennett. It just so happened that their initial interview took place while Bennett was in the middle of his "self-imposed exile" in hopes of having his contract renegotiated.
Here are a few snippets from the article.
Though he's taking some heat, particularly on social media, for the self-imposed exile, Bennett laughs the whole thing off. "Some guy told me, ‘I've lost so much respect for you,' " he says. "And I was like, Dude, I don't know who you are. I didn't know you respected me. So your respect doesn't mean anything to me. I feel bad for you that you had to come tell me that."
Here's Bennett on his dreams to build a theme park some day.
"I understand about theme parks," he says. "My mind is like a theme park, because it's fun and there's lots of cool stuff and you can take rides."
He has thoughts on a wide array of topics, including NFL players in general.
"So many of them are assholes. Whenever someone tells me, ‘Oh, so-and-so is my favorite player,' I think, Man, your favorite player's an asshole"
Bennett has a unique perspective on his personality and how he interacts with people.
"A lot of players act one way with teammates, one way with reporters, another way for fans, another for their friends," says Bennett. "I'm just me all the time. I'm normal. Everyone else in the NFL is weird."
He talked about Chicago's disappointing 5-11 season last year under head coach Marc Trestman.
"We had lots of mellow guys," says Bennett, "You didn't see a lot of guys running to the pile, helping their teammates up, or having each other's back. We weren't a bad team. A bad team is a team that doesn't have the talent to win. We did. We just sucked. Everybody sucked. Coaches, players, everybody."
When the Bears fired Trestman and general manager Phil Emery, Bennett understood the moves. "Trestman was a cool dude, but he lost the guys," says Bennett. "He tried to play both sides of the fence. Other people did a lot of shit, and I was the only one who got disciplined all year."
The disciplinary action he's referring to was his suspension after the training camp dust up with rookie first round draft pick, Kyle Fuller.
And we are talking about the Bears here, so the discussion eventually made it around to Jay Cutler.
Jay Cutler took his share of blame, too, but Bennett doesn't think it was all deserved. "Why does everyone always assume the quarterback is the leader?" Bennett asks. "Leading the offense and leading the team are two different things. Sometimes I like Cutty, and sometimes I don't. When I think of a leader, I think, ‘If he started a company, would guys come to work for him?' There's a lot of guys on our team who, if they started a business, it'd be, ‘F*** you, I'm gonna go work at McDonald's.' "
So would Bennett work at Cutler Corp.? "There are veterans that people follow," he says after a long pause, "and then you've got guys that lead the offense, get everyone lined up, get to your spot, do what you need to do, let's do our plays." Take that as you will.
Bennett admits he doesn't have many friends around the locker room, but teammate Ryan Mundy still considers Bennett a team leader.
"He's definitely a leader," says Mundy. "He just doesn't lead in the usual way. You have to expand your idea about what a leader is. Marty is a leader because he's not afraid to be himself. To me, that's more courageous than anything."
Definitely check out the full article to learn more about Bennett's life growing up, his business acumen at an early age, his flirtation with the NBA Draft, his time in Dallas and New York, his altercation with Fuller at training camp and much, much more.