Martellus Bennett is a walking — and, oh, yeah, talking — contradiction.
As he said last week: “I don’t have many friends. I’m actually an introvert. I like people sometimes, but I also like to be alone.”
Some might suggest the New England Patriots tight end is frequently alone in his thoughts. Or his world, which by his own admission rotates at a different speed from most.
There’s little question that the 29-year-old free spirit, who has called himself “the black Dr. Seuss” and “Martysaurus,” has been a singular personality and the single biggest attraction for reporters at Super Bowl 51.
He’s 100 percent frank. And born funny.
In the course of 30 minutes, Marty B gave his thoughts on everything from dragons and politics to favorite cartoon characters and why he wasn’t chosen the Most Interesting Man in the World. “Because the league won’t let us be sponsored by alcohol,” he explained.
This is a man who’s as philosophical as he is playful. One minute he’s telling us he probably won’t make the celebratory trip to the White House if the Patriots win because “I don’t support the guy that’s in the house.”
And the next he’s saying that if a black man gets cast in a movie, “he’d better have multiple black guys in the movie with him because his chance of survival would go up. The black guy is always the one who gets killed first.”
Bennett has survived in the NFL despite roller-coaster stops with the Cowboys, Bears and Giants. He wilted in the shadow of Dallas tight end Jason Witten, scoring five touchdowns in four seasons, and last week Bennett he said he was “a short tree who didn’t get any of the sunlight” in the shade of the bigger tree (Witten).
Bennett has fonder memories of the food and art galleries in New York than of football.
“He’s excited for everything,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “He did an interview and mentioned bacon like 30 times. Who does that?”
Marty B, that’s who. Or his brother, Michael Bennett, who plays on the Seahawks defensive line.
Marty Bennett’s teammates brace themselves for something comical at every turn. He might be the funniest player in the NFL. He’s equal parts self-promoter, stand-up comedian, children’s book author, rapper with his own CD and general relief for the most strait-laced team in the league.
Oh, and he’s one of the better tight ends in the league, even though his stats never reflect it. He could be a focal point in Sunday’s game as one of Tom Brady’s stable of receivers.
“I’m not a great fantasy tight end,” Bennett said. “I might block 49 times in a game and run eight routes. I look at other tight ends in the league, catching all those passes, and think it must be nice. I think I’m a pretty good football player, but my style of play is not that sexy. I might have two catches in a game, but still grade out 95 percent.”
He’s underselling himself, which is an upset in itself. Sure, he’s targeted only three times a game, half as much as Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph, and Bennett’s 701 yards ranked ninth among tight ends, but his seven touchdowns were one fewer than league leaders Cameron Brate and Hunter Henry.
Never mind that Bennett doesn’t seem to fit at all in Foxborough. Not under the tightest-lipped of them all, the dictatorial Bill Belichick or even the buttoned-down Brady.
But the marriage seems to be working because Belichick values production and efficiency above all else. Bennett gets it.
“The organization accepts me for what I am,” Bennett said.
He’s on time. He does his job. He has his fun without rocking — or capsizing — the boat. He takes notes.
“I like my own handwriting because it’s so pretty,” he said.
He clearly likes himself, and more would like him if they got to know him. He’s refreshingly candid and colorful in a staid world of cardboard cutouts.
Bennett did upset Mack Brown when he jilted the Texas Longhorns on signing day in 2005 — “I think he’s still mad at me” — but he also said he didn’t really like going to class at Texas A&M.
“I’m still dreaming of wizards and dragons,” Bennett said. “I was thinking about going back to school this offseason to get a degree, but the only school I really want to attend is Hogwarts.”
His college major?
“To be honest with you, eligibility,” Bennett said.
He loves movies. In fact, he’d love to be in one. A space movie, preferably.
“There’s infinite possibilities of what can happen in space,” he said. “I mean, we don’t know if we really landed on the moon. I had a dream of being the first black guy on the moon. I’d be kung fu astronaut, and I’d kick space booty. With all the advances we’ve had, I feel we should be going to the moon every day.”
Some might suggest Bennett’s already there. But he will never go into coaching, “the worst job in football.” Nor will he run for political office.
“You got to kiss too much butt,” he said. “I want to invent. I want to make people laugh. I’ve become the creator of awesomeness. I’m Mister Awesomeness.”