Martellus Bennett: Himself Alone

When I was in high school I worked part time with a fellow employee, who, like me, was very young. She told me that she was having a hard time with the job because she had a problem “taking orders”. In watching her, it was very evident that she was what I would call a “contrarian”. If you told her to do something she automatically fought against it, as if by instinct, not because what she was asked to do was wrong but because she was being asked to sublimate her will to that of others, even if it was for the collective good. I don’t know what happened to her but I hope she lost that attitude. Because it was going to be either that or she was going to starve.

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune doesn’t think things are going to get that far after the Bears’ indefinite suspension of Martellus Bennett, supposedly for his training camp fight with cornerback Kyle Fuller:

“It would be overstating matters to say the ‘Black Unicorn’ just came one step closer to football extinction, but Bennett needs to realize rules apply to him, too, no matter how charismatic he acts in front of the cameras. When Bennett addressed reporters in Bourbonnais after the incident, it became clear he thought he could charm his way through a situation the Bears considered more serious than he did.”

Bennett should have known that this issue was going to turn out to be more serious than the average training camp dust up when the disruption caused Bears head coach Marc Trestman to call off practice 30 minutes early. Bennett has only himself to blame for the severity of the punishment. Had he kept quiet and shown some remorse after the event, he likely would have gotten by with a fine. But even likely knowing that he was at least partly at fault, Bennett couldn’t bring himself to go along with the program and admit it. Instead, he made it clear after the incident that a fine wouldn’t be a deterent stating, “I can afford it”. Likely that’s what prompted the team to take it a step further.

But I’d say that matters go even deeper than a simple loss of temper in training camp and its likely that Bennett indeed does not think the rules don’t apply to him. Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times agrees:

“This can’t be the whole story. An NFL team fining and suspending a player indefinitely for getting into a fight with a teammate during training camp?”

My thoughts on the real reason for this suspension parallel those of Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune as he addresses Bennett’s real problem, which actually dates back to his rookie year when he appeared on HBO‘s “Hard-Knocks”

“Before Bears coach Marc Trestman called practice short Monday afternoon after Martellus Bennett slammed first-round pick Kyle Fuller to the ground, a defensive player called the tight end out.

“Bennett, as he’s apt to do, was walking back to the huddle after a rep in team drills with the first-team offense. It’s a distinctive strut and one he has had since day one a year ago.

“‘Run it back, run it back, run it back,’ the player said with Bennett walking the whole way.

“You see, Bennett’s practice habits aren’t just disruptive when he erupts, upset that Fuller slung him to the ground by reaching in, grabbing at the ball and yanking. No one walks more when they’re supposed to jog and jogs more when they’re supposed to run after the play than Bennett.

“In an up-tempo practice setting, he’s the one in 22 that takes his time after the play is over. Bennett’s lackadaisical approach does not go unnoticed by teammates and coaches, who long for more hustle and concentration from the veteran.”

Trestman also supported the notion that Bennett’s problems with the team go beyond the immediate issue of his fight with Fuller when he failed to answer this question. Via Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

“On whether the suspension was based solely on Bennett’s Monday tantrum …

“‘It’s a fair question. And I can only say that every decision we made is based on one thing — a balancing act in what’s best for our football team collectively, our organization, and that’s what went into our decision.’ “

The Bears knew what they were getting in Bennett when they signed him so its a little late to be worrying about his attitude. The guess here is that the suspension is meant to wake him up and curtail the worst of his abuses.

Bennett obviously believes that he’s being a team player by doing what’s best for him. Why hustle on the practice field? He doesn’t need that kind of conditioned response to assure that he’s used to playing fast in the real game. As a veteran he’s shown in the past that he can do that.

But what he doesn’t understand is that his immaturity hurts the team. The real challenge that the Bears face is to get Bennett to understand that if everyone isn’t pulling in the same direction and doing, not just what’s needed for themselves, but what’s needed for those around them, then what you are left with is a bunch of individuals. That might be tougher than anyone suspects. Because no one is more individual than Bennett.