Seahawks DE Michael Bennett overlooked no more
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Michael Bennett didn’t want to repeat his description of his sack dance.
He can be creative and outrageous enough to invent the pro wrestling-inspired, hip-gyrating move, then dub it ”two angels dancing while chocolate is coming from the heavens on a nice Sunday morning.” But he’s also quiet enough – in public, at least – to hope to avoid drawing more attention to himself.
Overlooked for most of his football career, the Seattle Seahawks defensive end is suddenly in demand. Hard to miss his 8 1/2 sacks during the regular season for the NFC’s top team, his fumble recovery in the conference title game.
”Now it’s great for the world to get to see him,” said his younger brother, Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett.
Martellus is creative, outrageous but happy to draw attention – and has always received plenty. He was widely considered the country’s top tight end prospect in high school; Michael, a year older, was lightly recruited and initially signed with Louisiana Tech, not exactly the SEC. Martellus was a second-round draft pick; Michael went undrafted.
He signed with the Seahawks but was cut midway through his rookie season.
”I just always kept going,” Michael said. ”It’s all about how you think about yourself. There’s a lot of people who get chances and they do nothing with them. The chances I get, I make the most of them.”
He was picked up by the Buccaneers and steadily matured into a pass-rushing force. Bennett led Tampa Bay in sacks with nine last season, but the Bucs declined to place the franchise tag on him.
So he signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the team that once released him.
Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had kept in touch over the years and was thrilled to watch his progress from afar. He knew Bennett could line up effectively at both end and tackle, a versatile player for a versatile defense.
”He’s one of these guys that is so bright that he can handle all the different (positions),” Quinn said.
Bennett downplays the sting of past slights. His friend and fellow defensive lineman Red Bryant sees it differently.
”That’s one of the things that drives him,” said Bryant, who has known Bennett for a decade.
A late bloomer, Bennett was able to reopen his recruiting when he wasn’t initially eligible at Louisiana Tech. He chose Texas A&M, where he first teamed with Bryant.
Fans assumed the Aggies offered him a scholarship only as a ploy to woo Martellus. Instead, both brothers were immediate contributors.
Michael won’t complain about his brother’s far loftier recruiting ranking and draft status. Not only that, he spins it as a blessing.
”Having that much expectation is harder than having no expectation,” he said.
And he’s perplexed by folks who assume he envies his brother’s successes.
”Those people are only children, I think,” he said, laughing.
So the two worked out together during the offseason, and little brother kept offering encouragement.
”Everyone’s journey is different. You still get to the destination,” Martellus recalled telling Michael. ”It may take a little bit longer, but if you keep working the way you work, it’s going to show up. People have to notice if you’re as talented as he is.”
His personality is getting noticed too. Surrounded by reporters at Super Bowl media day Tuesday, Michael eventually relented and reiterated that line about his sack dance. It’s the kind of colorful commentary that Martellus’ thousands of Twitter followers have come to expect. Martellus did the rounds of radio and TV interviews Tuesday in New York City, in town to watch his brother play in the Super Bowl.
The self-nicknamed ”Black Unicorn” is liable to pontificate on cartoons, dinosaurs or historical figures. Michael traces that creativity to a punishment doled out by their mother, a teacher, for childhood misdeeds: They had to write stories.
”We’re so much alike, but people don’t really think we are,” Martellus said of his brother. ”Michael just don’t talk to you like I talk to you, but he’s one of the funniest people in the world.”
And more people will learn that if he makes big plays in the Super Bowl.
”Any given day,” Bryant said, ”he’s the best player on that field.”