Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett have joined forces in what is expected to be one of the most fearsome tight end combinations in the NFL. If the Patriots locker room didn’t already contain enough character at the position, they have now reached critical mass.
Gronkowski is no stranger to Patriots fans, they know him well. The 6-foot-6-inch 245 pound Gronk might be the most stereotypical football freak a team can have. His favorite hobbies include pumping weights, partying, and nothing is more important than playing on the football field. Gronk is a frat brother transformed into a pop culture phenomenon.
.@claire_mcnear survived the Gronk party boat, and came back with one of the best things she's ever written: https://t.co/Zi3fOI9ed4
— m (@tole_cover) March 1, 2016
Gronk’s artistic side is mostly exhibited on the football field. His best work is done in the end zone, where he spikes the football so hard it’s amazing that it doesn’t explode into dust.
Enter Martellus Bennett: a 6-foot-7-inch, 265 pound tight end behemoth formely of the Chicago Bears. If Gronk is your typical football jock, Martellus is everything but. Bennett spends most of his free time with his head in the clouds thinking about anything but football.
In August of 2015, Bennett sat down with Chicago Magazine for an extensive interview about the game and his personal life. He’s never been your typical football star, “I never hung out with the football team. We just didn’t have that much in common beside football. I always hung out more with artists.” Looking at his massive physical frame one would never guess, but he is a fine example of a player that is already thinking about life well past football. According to Chicago Mag, his plan is to play three to five more years and then retire with enough money and connections to make animated films for the rest of his life.
Yes, animated films. Marty has a small office he calls “The Imagination Lounge” inside his home, in which he works on animated films like Zoovie: A Warm and Fuzzy Tale. He also previously completed an animated film about a movie-making penguin named Cosmo. Most of his imaginary work is centered around a dinosaur themed amusement park he hopes to build one day. Bennett exclaims, “My mind is like a theme park, because it’s fun and there’s lots of cool stuff and you can take rides.”
Gronk’s contribution to the artistic world thus far? An erotic novel that found its inspiration through the tight end called, A Gronking to Remember. If there is one feature both tight ends have in common, it might be that they are both somewhat out of their minds. Shane Minshew of Powerhouse Animation describes Bennett’s creative style as, “Dr. Seuss meets The Nightmare Before Christmas with a dash of ADHD and a twist of that shaking-with-joy sugary cereal rush that a kid would get watching Saturday morning cartoons.”
The Patriots now have both the football obsessed Gronk, who does nothing but live and breathe football and Marty, the artistically talented tight end that sees Pixar as one of his biggest enemies, “Honestly, you have to consider retirement every year. I’m an essentialist. I only do the things that are essential to my life. And one day, football won’t be anymore.”
Later in the interview with Chicago Magazine, Bennett opens up about some of his childhood adventures which included being banned for life from his local IHOP. He also goes on to tell the magazine that he only reads the left hand pages of books so he can finish them twice as fast. Marty also explains his aggravation that people make fun of his blackberry when Andrew Luck only has a flip phone. What does Marty believe is the difference between the New York and Los Angeles population? “They’re pretty similar except the people in New York are actually doing shit with their lives”. His commentary on NFL players in general include, “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.”
— Chandlar Bing ✈️ (@t3rrkillinit) January 12, 2016
While Marty was completing art and playing in the band, Gronk’s sole focus was the football field. 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons noted some of Gronk’s recruiting process through high school, “He was a guy who would enjoy the campus visits. He’d refer to himself as ‘The Big, Bad Gronk’ sometimes. The personality was always there, and that was clear from the beginning.” Gronk had fielded close to about sixty scholarship offers while Marty was at home playing a game called “Burritos” with his dad. Inside of Marty’s home there is one absent design element, “No trophies. No jerseys. Nothing football related at all in the house. Not even a football. The only hint that someone is remotely interested in sports is the framed Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey of his older brother Michael Bennett.”
When the Chicago Magazine interview occurred it was not without controversy. Bennett was in the middle of a holdout from the Bears’ voluntary off-season mini-camp workouts. While the rest of his team was meeting a new head coach, offensive/defensive coordinator, Marty was staying home looking to renegotiate his four-year, $20 million dollar contract. Chicago Mag stated, “While his teammates are meeting the Bears’ new head coach, […] Marty is at home playing Ping-Pong against a middle aged journalist in his basement.” His holdout didn’t go unnoticed by Bears fans and Bennett expressed his frustration, “Some guy told me, ‘I’ve lost so much respect for you,’ 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.”
— BigMoneyTraders (@BigMoneyTraders) June 17, 2015
Just how important is football to Martellus Bennett? It is definitely interesting to see Belichick acquire a football player who is as unconventional as he is. Bennett had a 3.5 GPA while in addition to playing the trombone, trumpet, and clarinet in high school. His dog was a toy poodle and his name was Fluffy. However, Bears Safety Ryan Mundy testified Marty’s dedication to the game, “The biggest misconception it that he doesn’t take football seriously. Sure, he’s got things he’s interested in outside the game, but when it’s football season, he’s all about football, just like anyone else.”
The hardest adjustment for Bennett in New England is likely not the playbook or pressure, but finding ‘The Patriot Way’. There is rarely an outspoken or vocal player in the locker room that has the ability to speak their mind if Belichick has his way. Marty has been openly critical of his team and coaching staff in the past with the Bears, “A bad team is a team that doesn’t have the talent to win. We did. We just sucked. Everybody sucked. Coaches, players, everybody.
The first time Bill Belichick is asked to react about something Martellus Bennett says is going to be glorious.
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) March 17, 2016
Football is only one facet of Bennett’s life. He has many things that are important to him and he doesn’t let the game get in the way. Marty still finds time to draw, imagine his next creative series, and even read Harry Potter in the locker room before practice starts. Football might not be the most important thing in the world to Bennett but it just happens to be something he does extremely well. His passion as an individual in efforts to stay true to himself is something to admire. Shane Minshew of Powerhouse Animation complimented Marty, “He has attacked these endeavors with the same drive and ferocity that you would expect a football player to use on the field.”
The Patriots need to capture the focus and attention of Martellus Bennett and make sure football is is primary focus when it comes time to play. There is no doubt there is a feeling he can be somewhat of a loner in the locker room. However, his former teammate Ryan Mundy testified that, “He’s definitely a leader. He just doesn’t lead in the usual way. Marty is a leader because he’s not afraid to be himself. To me, that’s more courageous than anything.” Veterans must take Marty under his wing, make him an integral part of the culture of the Patriots. There is no doubt that he is a force of nature when he is motivated. Now he finally has a chance to win with the Patriots. Last year Bennett said, “Honestly, it just doesn’t matter. I just want to win.” Hopefully the change of culture, scenery, and coaching will inspire Bennett to bring his game to an even higher level.