You all know the story. When the Jared Cook negotiations went crashing to the floor, the Green Bay Packers on March 10 hastily picked up Martellus Bennett as their starting tight end – at a cost of $21 million over three years. I never questioned Bennett’s talent, as that was well established over nine prior seasons.
My worries started before Marty even showed up in Green Bay. They were based on his attitude, ego, and controversial running off at the mouth.
As early as March 18 I opined: “Given the team’s underutilization of Jared Cook in 2016, count me as a doubting Thomas – I’ll believe the Packers will take full and proper advantage of Martellus Bennett’s abilities when I see it happen.”
Days later, I cautioned: “I just hope that teammates warn both Martellus and Ricky (Jean Francois) that the bosses in Green Bay have really thin skins when it comes to being criticized or questioned.”
Things started out okay at training camp. In mid-June Bennett told the press, “I feel like I may not be a team captain, but I am the captain of fun.”
But then the season got underway, and before the end of September, with Bennett not producing and not getting many looks either, I made a prediction: “He’s played poorly, but he’s also being wasted, and it’s probably going to result in an explosion by this volatile personality pretty soon.”
That explosion followed soon thereafter. His last game with the Packers was on October 22, in a losing effort against the Saints. Bennett first semi-announced he was planning to retire at the end of the year, and next he refused to play, based on his physical condition. What followed was some ugly back and forth between Bennett and the Packers’ brass and medical people, mostly about the extent of Bennett’s injuries. It ended with the Packers waiving him on November 9, and claiming he had failed to disclose a medical condition.
Bennett was rapidly picked up by his former team, and he immediately resumed playing. He recorded six catches for 53 yards in two games with the New England Patriots. Equally abruptly, however, New England placed him on injured reserve, ending his season.
I’m not going to get into who was right and who was wrong regarding Marty’s health and medical treatment.
All I can say is thank god Bennett was placed on IR. What a relief!
Until that announcement, here’s what I was dreading: watching TV on February 4, and seeing Bennett snare passes from Tom Brady, being instrumental in a Patriots’ win, parading around the field with the Lombardi Trophy held high, and spewing out some choice words for all those idiots back in Green Bay.
The entire affair was a boondoggle, but at least Packers fans have been spared a final humiliation.