COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Packers fans are understandably irked by Martellus Bennett’s sketchy exit from Green Bay and reunion with the New England Patriots. But after seeing how Bennett’s departures from the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears went down in a similarly unceremonious fashion in the tight end’s previous NFL stops, it’s pretty easy to say Packers faithful should have seen this coming, especially when quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Bennett complained of a shoulder injury during his final weeks with the Packers. He wanted to undergo surgery, which would have put him on injured reserve, so the Packers elected to waive him instead with a failure to disclose physical condition designation. The Patriots claimed him and all of a sudden he didn’t need shoulder surgery anymore. Bennett practiced Friday and played seven snaps in New England’s 41-16 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.
Bennett’s explanation? “(Expletive) it.”
He was angry with the Packers’ decision to cut him rather than place him on injured reserve, so now he’s taking it out on the league as a member of the Patriots.
Did Bennett quit on the Packers? Eh, yeah, probably. If he can play with the Patriots, then he could have kept playing with the Packers. It’s a bad look for Bennett to be back on the field days after explaining on Instagram that he needed shoulder surgery.
But although NFL players make millions of dollars and it’s difficult for the average Joe to feel too bad for them, they’re not treated fairly compared to other professional athletes. NFL players get beat up physically far more than MLB, NBA or NHL athletes, and they don’t receive guaranteed contracts. All advantage in the NFL is swayed toward billionaire owners rather than the players risking their bodies for entertainment. Perhaps that will shift (though it seems unlikely) when the next collective bargaining agreement omes up, but for now, NFL players are treated like crap.
So, Bennett essentially deciding he didn’t want to keep playing for a Packers team headed down the toilet manned by Brett Hundley and latching on with the Patriots is a rare win for the players. Regardless of what you think about the Packers’ team doctors, the severity of Bennett’s injury and whether he “quit,” he at least was able to stick it to the man in this situation.
The Patriots also did nothing wrong. They were at the bottom of the waiver-wire pecking order and any other team in the NFL could have claimed Bennett, blocking him from getting to the Patriots. Is it a guarantee that Bennett would have actually played for that team? Far from it, but there was no collusion between Bennett and the Patriots. Teams cannot complain about the Patriots receiving a starting-caliber tight end midway through the season. Somewhere around 30 teams could have prevented this from happening and chose not to.
So, now the Patriots have the Robin to Rob Gronkowski’s Batman on the field, even if Packers fans probably are looking at Marty B as some blend of The Joker and The Riddler.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images