He is the “Captain of Fun.”
He is a philosopher.
He’s the “people’s champ.”
And he is a big man poised to be a big part of the Green Bay Packers’ offense.
He is Martellus Bennett, and he’s the most noteworthy free-agent addition in Green Bay since Charles Woodson more than a decade ago. At a towering 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, Bennett is coming off five consecutive seasons of at least 53 receptions. That includes 55 catches last year for New England, which won the Super Bowl, and 90 catches for Chicago in 2014.
His personality is bigger than his physical dimensions and career statistics.
“I thought this team was a really good team and I played against them for so many years (while with the Bears) and I got tired of getting my ass kicked, so I was like, ‘Let’s go play with those guys for a little bit.’”
Bennett touched on numerous subjects during a lengthy session with reporters on Tuesday. Here are some of the highlights:
On quarterback Aaron Rodgers saying Bennett brings “extreme confidence,” which is something the team needs: “Aaron said that about me? That was nice. I don’t know what he means by confidence. I feel I’m a good-looking guy, different things like that. I talk to a lot of the guys all the time. I think you just hope it rubs off on the other guys. Recognize, compliment guys, pushing them to get better, letting them know, ‘Hey, that was a great catch. Good job. Hey, I really like that.’ Or, ‘Hey, man, how’d you do that? Show me how you did it.’ You know, you want to water other people’s gardens. You just don’t want to tend to your own garden all the time. That’s where I feel most fulfilled as a person. Sorry to get philosophical.”
On getting to know Rodgers: “It’s been pretty cool. Aaron’s a nice guy. There’s text messages, I send a lot of emojis and GIFs and stuff like that to him. Other than that, it’s just conversations. We just talk a lot, and that’s pretty much it. I tell him things like, ‘I like chocolate chip cookies. What kind of cookie do you like?’ When you’re younger, I show him pictures of my car. As you get older, it’s like ‘Look, my daughter did this today. She’s jumping or she learned to use the potty.’ That kind of stuff like that. It’s just conversation, making friends with anyone, just talking to one another.”
On off-the-field chemistry: “I think it’s pretty big. But not just for quarterbacks and receivers, as a team overall. Guys hanging out, having lunch together. Doesn’t matter if I’m hanging out with a DB or a linebacker or going to a movie with a defensive lineman or offensive lineman. Just mingl(ing) with all of the guys and be a bridge to both sides of the ball, I think that’s important for teams. Then once you get to know another guy, it’s bigger than just plays. You’re playing for one another. You really can’t play for another unless you know each other. You get to know each other’s kids. I always tell the story about Matt Forte, not to go back in the past because I’m more of a present guy. Matt Forte went down on a play and I was on the other side of the field, and I was like (curses), so I kind of walked, then I start sprinting over there because I thought about Nala, his daughter. We’re really close friends. ’You can’t be hurt, Nala’s going to be mad at me. I can’t let you get hit in the backfield.’ Things like that because we know each other. It just makes it bigger than football. And the game is bigger than football. Football is fun, it’s just a bunch of guys out there playing football. It’s funny that I get paid to do this.”
On the NFL being more lenient with touchdown celebrations, including using the ball as a prop: “Oh, did they? They listened to me. 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 sometimes you’ve got to pay homage, guys. I don’t really celebrate. I just like to see other guys celebrate. I like it when Odell (Beckham) dances and does all that cool stuff he’d be doing, all that young buck stuff. I’m just a guy, I just feel like it took 10 other guys to help me score, so I try not to. I’m not a guy that points to the back of my jersey or stuff like that. I just kind of do stuff. Every once in awhile I’ll do a wiggle if my daughter asks me to do something but, other than that, I don’t do much.”
On books: “I’m not a history guy. I don’t like real stuff. I like to live in fantastical adventures. Like, I love Harry Potter. I just finished “Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy,” which was phenomenal, and then I think next I’m going to do is “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.” But I like a lot of philosophy, I like Malcolm Gladwell, Eckhart Tolle, Paulo Coelho. "The Alchemist" is a great book. I mean, those are classics. But then I also love “Ophelia” and “The Marvellous Boy,” which is a great book. I usually read fiction because fiction is not true, which always confused me because nonfiction, it seems like it should be the other way around. But I write fiction, so I read fiction. … It’s good for me. I mean, the creative adult is the kid who survived.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.