GREEN BAY - The media mob surrounding Martellus Bennett’s locker Tuesday after the Green Bay Packers’ first open organized team activities session rivaled what Aaron Rodgers faces each week during the season. And the talkative tight end did not disappoint.
Bennett, a surprise free-agent signing by Packers general manager Ted Thompson in March to replace Jared Cook, held court for 11 ½ minutes on topics ranging from hitchhiking to Harry Potter. Team chemistry was a popular subject, with questioners hungry for details about his developing relationship with the Packers’ star quarterback.
“It’s been pretty cool,” Bennett said. “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, you know, what kind of cookie do you like? I just tell him little things, or I tell him … you know, when you're younger you show pictures of your car and stuff like that. As you get older, it's like, 'Hey, look my daughter did this today. She's jumping, or she learned to use the potty.' Kind of stuff like that. … It's just conversation, making friends with anyone, just talking to one another.”
Asked whether that kind of bonding extends onto the playing field, Bennett said, “Eventually it will. I don't feel like we've had a lot of plays just yet. I'm always talking to him on the field too, trying to see what he wants. ‘Hey, how did that look,’ or he'll give me a thumbs up. Or if I'm in another group, I always look back at him … 'Hey, is that what you want? Is there something different you want on this?' Always just trying to figure out, having those conversations on and off the field, just getting to know each other as players and as people.”
Rodgers has been quick to reciprocate, observing that Bennett “brings a different type of attitude” to the locker room.
“He is a very interesting person. He's got a lot of great interests,” Rodgers said. “He cares about football. He cares about dominating. He brings that grit and that attitude to the field where he wants to dominate the guy over him whether he's blocking or catching passes. And I think he's going to bring some extreme confidence to the locker room, which we need."
For Bennett, it’s a confidence that was enhanced last season when he won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. The experience was enlightening, he said.
“The interesting thing about the Super Bowl is it's everybody's ultimate goal, and that's what every guy wants to do,” said Bennett, who also has had stints with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Chicago Bears. “But once you do it, and you get that taste, and you actually know why you're playing … because for a long time -- I was only in the playoffs once before last year going to the Super Bowl -- but for a long time, you had this idea of something. This beautiful thing out there but you'd never seen it, never really touched it, or you may see it in pictures or things like that, 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 that taste … and it’s like, this is why I do this. It took me 10 years to get there, but it's like, 'This is why I've been practicing. This is all those sprints. All those extra runs, those extra reps. This is why you do it.’
“So it's easier to do those extra reps because you know why you're doing it, because before then, it's just a myth.”