HOUSTON—Thank heaven for Martellus Bennett, the man who is saving Super Bowl week.
The 21st-century NFL is many things: flashy, expansive, relentlessly commercial. What it’s not is unpredictable. Strip away the fact that this week will end in a football game, and Houston is hosting a sleek, well-produced corporate event. And like all corporate events that proceed on schedule, it can be a bit, well … boring.
Which is where Bennett comes in. The Patriots tight end stands in stark contrast to the Belichickian demeanor of his teammates and the focus-on-the-field Falcons. Bennett’s conversations with the media have been free-floating explorations of art, science, philosophy and nostalgia. Wednesday afternoon was no exception.
Trying to track Bennett’s thought processes is like trying to bring him down in the open field, so sit back and enjoy the best of the Mind of Martellus:
On his favorite foods:
“My family’s very, very black. Very, very South. We’re from Louisiana. So, red beans and rice, candied yams, greens, cornbread, fried chicken, and purple Kool-Aid. We don’t call it by the flavors. We only call it by the colors.”
On playing in a Super Bowl in his hometown:
“Before every game you think about everything you’ve been through to get to where you are.. So to be back in the same place where you started, running those wind sprints, to get to this platform has been very interesting and kind of surreal for the most part. I drive by the hills that I ran on, the streets that I played on with my brother and my friends. The Super Bowl was our cul-de-sac, and now we’re in the real Super Bowl.”
On the joy of cursing:
“Sometimes the best way to say something is with a curse word. You can say, ‘Man, that’s great,” and that’s cool. But if you say, ‘F—, that’s great!” everyone will be saying, ‘man, that must be really damn awesome.’ I know y’all can’t use that on TV.”
On going to a Super Bowl with one’s spouse (note that this was delivered with love):
“I never went into the stadium for the Super Bowl [when his brother Michael played for the Seahawks], but I was in town. My wife was pregnant at the time, and I didn’t want her sitting in the stands because I didn’t want to have to deal with her. Dealing with a pregnant wife in the stadium and all those people and there’s so many hormones and so many people, you can’t really enjoy the game. She might want a pickle, and then she might want popcorn. Next thing you know she wants ice cream. And you’ve got to go get it because she can’t really walk. And she wants to wear heels because they’re sexy, but her feet hurt. You try to tell her to put on some New Balances because they’re comfortable, but they don’t look as good with her clothes. That’s a football game in itself.”
On continuing his education:
“I was thinking about going back to school this offseason to get a degree, but the only school I’d want to attend is Hogwarts.”
On racial dynamics in horror movies:
“If you want to be in a scary movie as a black guy, you’ve got to recruit other black people for it. The black cast member gets killed off first. So your best bet is to have multiple black people in the cast with you. Then your chances of survival go up. If you’re the only black guy in a cast of white people, they’ll say, ‘There’s a noise in the basement, let’s go check it out.’ And I’m like, ‘man, I don’t think we should do that.’ And they’re like, ‘we should really check it out, dude.’ And I’m like ‘that sounds like a bad idea.’ And then you get killed on the couch, and you’re thinking, ‘I should have gone down there with them.’”
On his role with the Patriots:
“There’s games where I have to block 45 times and I run eight routes. There’s guys out there, I watch tapes, and they don’t block anybody. And I’m like, ‘That must be nice.’ But then I look at how they leave their teammates hanging, the running back comes through the hole and gets crushed because the tight end didn’t want to block or stick his head in there. I’m not a fantasy football tight end. You draft me, and you may be pissed off: one week he goes for 120, the next three weeks he gets 30 yards receiving. Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do.”
“I take the best notes. It’s probably because I like my own handwriting. So I like to write a lot because I think it’s so pretty.”
On blocking out distractions during the Super Bowl:
“I told my family I’d see them when I can. They know how I am. I told them, ‘the season’s going to be over in a couple days, so I can see y’all’s asses every single day after that.’ Right now it’s really about work.”
On his memories of National Signing Day:
“My signing was on TV, Fox Sports 1. I was going to go to LSU. My family had all these LSU hats, all this LSU stuff. I had this Cotton Bowl coin, which had on one side Texas and the other side LSU. I flipped it and it came up Texas. That’s what I wanted because I was going to flip it over and say, ‘I’m going to LSU.’ But then I saw a Texas A&M hat and realized in my heart I wanted to go to A&M. So I grabbed the hat, and my family was like, “Oh snap!” because nobody had Texas A&M stuff. (Former Texas coach) Mack Brown still hates me.”
What he’d do with a time machine:
“If I had a time machine I would go eat dinner with Jesus, be there when He turned water into wine and fed all those people with the bread. And then after that I would go back to the dinosaurs. If I did go visit my 10-year-old self, I’d tell him, ‘Dude. You’re awesome. Remember that. No matter what they tell you the rest of your life, you’re awesome.’”
On the magic of reading and writing:
“A book is the best way to travel. If you can’t afford a vacation, you can take one with a book. You can read Harry Potter and go to the world that J.K. Rowling created. Or you can go down the rabbit hole with Alice. Stories are so great, they can take you on these vacations when you can’t go anywhere. When I think about writing stories, I think about taking people on a great adventure, and I’m the only one that can take them there.”
On whether he’d ever coach:
“I’d be a terrible coach. I know a lot about the game, but being a coach is the worst thing in football. They’ve got to be there all day and night, and game planning afterward, never get to see your family. I like to see my family. I’d be a good motivator, a guy you bring in for a week to get guys fired up.”
On his short-lived life of crime:
“I started stealing candy bars at 10. Well, I stole them before then, but I started getting caught at 10. It was just so easy, I got lazy.”
On whether his dream for the final two minutes of the Super Bowl involves wizards and dragons:
“No, it involves taking a knee.”
Martellus Bennett, everyone. He’s doing his best to keep this Super Bowl lively for us all.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.