Martellus Bennett

Martellus Bennett: 'When you play for Bill Belichick, you want to prove him wrong'

Martellus Bennett: 'When you play for Bill Belichick, you want to prove him wrong'

What's it like to play for Bill Belichick?

Surely, plenty of players have pondered that question over the years. For those who have had that experience, they'll likely tell you it's unique.

Take Martellus Bennett, for example. The former tight end spent the 2016 season in New England and was there for a cup of coffee in 2017. That was enough time to get the full Belichick experience.

On NBC Sports Boston's "Arbella Early Edition," Bennett talked about the type of motivation Belichick gives his players.

"You don't want to run through the wall for Bill," Bennett said. "When you play for Bill Belichick, you want to prove Bill wrong. 

"It's different from running through a wall, right? You want to prove him wrong. It's like you're almost against him, but you're with him. Like, I'm going to show you what I'm capable of. I think that's like the motivation of playing for Bill."

Whatever works, right?

In 2016, Bennett helped the Patriots en route to their fifth Super Bowl title tallying 55 catches for 701 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. Of course, his brother Michael Bennett didn't fare as well in New England as the veteran defensive end was traded to the Cowboys last week following a brief-yet-tumultuous stint with the team.

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Martellus Bennett calls on Brady, Brees, Manning to join NFL players' protests

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AP Images

Martellus Bennett calls on Brady, Brees, Manning to join NFL players' protests

Former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett is an athlete who's never been reticent to speak out on social causes.

At a forum titled "Athletes + Activism" in Washington, Bennett said if Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning would join the protests begun by Colin Kaepernick, "the conversation in the NFL would change."

"If Peyton Manning joined the conversation, the conversation in the NFL would change,” Bennett said, per Yahoo's Jason Owens. “If Drew Brees came in and really joined the conversation, it would change. Tom Brady. All these great white heroes that they have running around, throwing the football — if they jump into the conversation, it would be so much bigger.”

Kaepernick, while with the San Francisco 49ers, kneeled during the national anthem to draw attention to racial inequality and police brutality. It led other players following suit, President Trump weighing in against the protests and NFL owners having to address the issue by requiring players who wanted to protest to remain in the locker room during the anthem.

"If they were to take a knee with Colin Kaepernick, that conversation would totally change," Bennett said. "If Tom Brady took a knee, white America would be like, 'Oh my God. What is this that Tom Brady's talking about?'

“They would start doing research and would join in the conversation. It would pique their interest. But since it's a black guy taking a knee, it's like, 'Alright, these guys, here he goes again. It's another one of these guys out here doing this.’”

While with the Patriots, Bennett, who retired in 2017 after 10 years in the NFL, stayed in the locker room during the anthem. With the Green Packers, he protested by raising a black-gloved fist while the anthem was being played. His brother, Michael, a defensive end who came to the Patriots via trade this spring, has said he'll continue to stay in the locker room during the anthem, as he did with the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

Martellus Bennett said another former Patriot, defensive end Chris Long, who joined his teammates in protests during the anthem while with the Philadelphia Eagles, didn't have the impact that white quarterbacks would have.

"Chris Long [joined] the conversation, but he's a defensive end," Bennett told the forum. "I love Chris Long. Chris Long is my boy. Shoutout to Chris. But it's not the position.”

Last summer, when interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Brady said the controversy surrounding the protests prompted "a lot of good healthy conversations ... in our locker room."

"I respect why people are doing what they are doing. And they’re doing it for different reasons, and that’s okay. You know, you can do things for your reason," Brady told Winfrey. "They can do things for their reason, and you have respect for that. But, I thought it was great."  

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This is why Martellus Bennett won't return to Patriots

This is why Martellus Bennett won't return to Patriots

Martellus Bennett contributed to the New England Patriots in both of his stints with the team. But with Rob Gronkowski retired, Jacob Hollister traded, and no activity at the position in the draft, the Patriots' cupboard at tight end is looking bare.

Speculation that Bennett may make a comeback began following the Patriots' trade for his brother, defensive end Michael Bennett, back in March.

But in a recent interview with TMZ Sports, Martellus explained why he won't be joining his brother for another stint in New England.

Per TMZ Sports, Bennett is "focusing on his multimedia production company, [and is] doing everything from book publishing to animated features and more."

When asked about a potential return, Bennett responded, "It's not me. I'm not the one."

The Patriots acquired tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins following Rob Gronkowski's retirement earlier this offseason.

They also traded tight end Jacob Hollister to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday in exchange for a 2020 seventh-round pick and elected not to take a tight end in the 2019 NFL Draft last week. 

But if the Patriots are looking for a boost at tight end, it looks like it won't be coming from Bennett.

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