Scenes From Super Bowl LI: Talking With Martellus Bennett
The Houston-area native and former Texas A&M star provided some of the most colorful commentary.
The two most entertaining personalities on the New England Patriots’ roster happen to play the same position. And with All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski not playing due to injury, Houston-area native (Alief Taylor High) and former Texas A&M star Martellus Bennett has become the go-to quote for Super Bowl LI.
I covered Bennett when he played for the Dallas Cowboys and was drawn to his colorful, if sometimes childish, personality. During Wednesday’s media availability at the Patriots’ team hotel, Bennett held court for at least ten to fifteen minutes longer than any of his teammates. He’s one of the funnier players in the league, but he’s also extremely thoughtful. He made some headlines Monday by saying he wouldn’t go to the White House if the Patriots won because of his lack of respect for President Donald J. Trump. I meant to speak to several Patriots players and coaches Wednesday, but I was once again pulled into Bennett’s vortex. Here’s a portion of what he shared with the dozens of reporters who were stacked four and five deep around his podium:
On what he remembers about National Signing Day: I actually did my [ceremony] on television, on [Fox Sports Southwest], and I remember I was going to go to LSU. Everyone in my family had LSU hats. I had this Cotton Bowl coin from when Texas played LSU because Texas was one of my top picks, too. I flipped a coin and it landed on Texas. I wanted to give that moment of “Ah, he’s going to Texas” and then flip it over and it’s LSU. And then I see this Texas A&M hat, and my heart was just, like, “Texas A&M.” My family was like, “Oh, snaps, no one has Texas A&M stuff.” But at that moment I loved my brother [Michael Bennett] so much, and I couldn’t imagine being apart from him.
[Former Texas coach] Mack Brown still hates me. I played in Vince Young’s celebrity basketball game and Mack Brown looked at me like he was disgusted. Sally Brown was very nice to me, but Kim Franchione made better cookies. I do remember that. Sally’s cookies were good, too. They both made cookies for me.
On if things would’ve been different had legendary tight ends coach Mike Pope been in Dallas when he was drafted by that team in the second round: It would’ve been different. We were a better fit together. [Jason Garrett’s brother] John Garrett was a good coach. We just didn’t mesh as well as we could. But there’s still stuff I do to this day that I learned from him. He said, “high and tight” which is ridiculous because I’ve fumbled, like, twice in my career, probably because he always said that shit to me.
On why he curses so much: Sometimes the best way to say something is with a curse word. It’s like “Man, that’s great” and “that’s cool,” but if you say, “F—, that’s great, that must be really damn awesome,” I know y’all can’t use that on TV. Sometimes it’s just a really good time to put in a curse word.
On what he thinks of the job NFL commissioner Roger Goodell does: I actually don’t know what he does. I knows he gets paid way more than I do.
On what he’d tell his ten-year-old self if he had a time machine: If I had a time machine, I would not go back to see my ten-year-old self. I want to go back in time and eat dinner with Jesus. I would like to see him turn water into wine and when he fed all those people with the bread. After that, I would go back to the dinosaurs. If I did go to visit my ten-year-old self, I would tell him, “Dude you’re awesome. No matter what they tell you the rest of your life, you’re awesome.”
On whether he enjoyed his studies at Texas A&M: No. Mr. Gold, my Business 101 teacher was awesome. I just think that self-education is the best education. They put me in courses that I felt like it was stuff I didn’t want to learn.
On what was he majored in: Well, to be honest it was eligibility. I aced it. Didn’t miss a single game.
About his creative mind: We have Marty Fridays where I play my own music. When I do a new album, everyone doubts me. Then they hear my music and know how good it is. And when I tell them something else, like I jumped out of a plane, they doubt me. I have pictures of me jumping out of planes. I’m like the Big Fish movie where I tell all these stories and exaggerate a little. Tim Burton is one of my favorite directors ever.
After a reporter tells him that astronauts were recently playing football at the Space Station: They should’ve invited me over. That sounds like a great time. NASA, dudes, what are y’all doing? I’m like one of the biggest space advocates ever. I have a new [children’s] book coming out: Eli Wonders, the Kung Fu Astronaut.
Why he loves NASA: As a kid, I think the infinite possibilities of what can be in space drew me in. You don’t know what’s out there. We don’t know if they really landed on the moon. Sorry, NASA. We don’t know. We haven’t really been back. And then I dreamed of being one of the first black people on the moon. If I save some money, maybe Elon Musk can get me up there.
On his doubt about a moon landing: Do we know? Technology is a lot better, so I feel like we should be going to the moon every day. “Hey, what are you doing today Marty? I’m going to the moon, I’ll be back next week.”
Favorite space movies: Guardians of the Galaxy or Spaceballs. E.T. was awesome as a kid until you watch it now. E.T.‘s really creepy. It wasn’t really a space movie. It was really about empathy. Spielberg is a great, great guy. There’s empathy in the first scene when you hear Elliott’s brother come down the stairs and say, “You’re so selfish all you do is care about yourself and you should put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a chance.” Everything E.T. felt, Elliott felt. It was very interesting. I could be wrong. I’m wrong a lot.
On whether he should be Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World: The NFL won’t let us be sponsored by liquor but they sell liquor and advertise it all the time so they keep all the money to themselves. I feel like I could be in a Dos Equis commercial. I don’t think it would be a stretch. I might just start making my own most interesting man in the world commercials.
On his interest in politics someday: You have to kiss too much butt. But you don’t have to do it if you’re president. Guys like Bob Iger from Disney and Jeff Katzenberg do the things I want to do in life. I want to invent. I like colors. Make things that make people laugh and take them on great adventures. That’s why I started my company. I’d probably be a terrible coach. The coach’s job is the worst in football. They never get to see their families. I’d be a terrible coach. I’d be a good guy to come in for a week.
On whether Patriots coach Bill Belichick gets him: I think Bill does get me and I get Bill. There are times he says stuff and I bust out laughing in the middle of meetings. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be funny. No one else would be laughing. He’s so smart and so funny, his humor can go above people’s heads. You have to be there, like Larry David in Curb your Enthusiasm.
On Dak Prescott becoming a star in Dallas: It shows that in the NFL everyone’s time’s coming. Every year they are drafting a guy to replace you. And quarterbacks don’t have to deal with that as much as running backs, tight ends or wide receivers. In this leaguem you’re a lion and the [veteran] is a gazelle. The gazelle knows it has to run because the lion is chasing it and eventually every gazelle’s going to get caught. You can only run for so long.
On how he gathers material for his books and animation? I’ve watched so much just for material. I’m always looking for different characters, like the little black kid from Cop and a Half. I’m always looking for…I carry several notebooks. This is my Indiana Jones notebook. I have all these different sections, and I whip it out and say what would be a great scene in a movie.
Bennett went on to say he’d been inspired by the books of J.R.R. Tolkien and Walter Dean Myers, but by then I’d run out of room on my recorder. A Patriots employee finally cut off the interview or Bennett might’ve talked until kickoff.