A short overview of the tight end position in Green Bay heading into OTAs and minicamp. Aaron Nagler/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - Martellus Bennett made clear in March his disdain for NFL rules that put restrictions on touchdown celebrations. So when the Green Bay Packers tight end learned Tuesday the league was relaxing its policy, he felt vindicated.
“They listened to me,” a bemused Bennett said at his locker after the Packers’ first open organized team activities session. “I feel like I did that for the people. I’m the people’s champ.”
Bennett was referencing a flurry of tweets he sent out via his Twitter feed (@MartysaurusRex) March 22 after Troy Vincent, NFL vice president of football operations, released what was described as “an educational training video for players to show clear examples of appropriate and inappropriate celebrations.”
“Do something impactful,” Bennett tweeted in response. “Y’all wasting guys' time with this (bleep).”
In another of more than a dozen tweets on the topic, Bennett wrote, “Let the players express their individuality and creativity. Y’all gonna make an educational video on how we should talk next?”
The NFL finally relented this past week after talking to more than 80 current and former players, with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying in a letter to fans that the league wants to allow players “more room to have fun after they make big plays.”
Among the celebrations now sanctioned are snow angels such as the one Packers receiver Randall Cobb made after scoring against the Houston Texans in white-out conditions last December at Lambeau Field.
Bennett was more than willing to playfully take credit for the NFL’s change of heart.
“I did that for the players in the league,” said Bennett, tongue planted firmly in cheek while staring into reporters’ cameras. “I mean, they won’t give me my props but sometimes you’ve got to pay homage, guys. I’m looking at you — all of you.”
The policy change is unlikely to benefit Bennett, who — in contrast to his effervescent personality — is surprisingly subdued after scoring touchdowns.
“I don’t really celebrate,” he said. “I just like to see other guys celebrate. I like it when (New York Giants receiver) Odell (Beckham Jr.) dances and do all that cool stuff that they be doin’, all that young blood 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. 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.”
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Bennett isn’t alone among Packers receivers in that regard. Jordy Nelson, who typically shows little reaction after scoring, wasn’t sure what to make of the NFL’s decision to relax its restrictions.
"Guys better not try to involve me in their celebrations, that’s all I’m worried about,” Nelson said. “I will not be part of the group.”
Asked whether that included snow angels, Nelson said, "That’d be an easy one to do but … we’ll see.”
On the other side of the locker room, quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a big-picture view of the policy change.
"I don't know if it changes the ‘No Fun League’ kind of mantra there, but it's good anytime you can give the fans what they want,” Rodgers said. “They enjoy the excitement associated with that. If it's in a demeaning, taunting way, those probably don't belong in the game. But when you're celebrating with your teammates and you get flagged because you're the second guy in or it's a delayed celebration, I think those things are a little bit silly.”
So, can Packers fans look forward to seeing Bennett do the famed “Lambeau Leap” this coming season?
“I think that’s something that’s unique and I look forward to getting the opportunity to do so,” Bennett said. “Hopefully they embrace me. It’d be pretty cool to Lambeau Leap.”