Interpreting Martellus Bennett: Super Bowl joy, a fond farewell or just Marty being Marty

Mike Petraglia
February 08, 2017 - 7:49 am
It's always difficult interpreting the words of a star athlete at the end of his contract. Throw in a Super Bowl victory parade, fans screaming and showering them with love, it becomes that much more of a challenge. Add in the boundless energy, spirit and personality of Martellus Bennett, and the task is just about impossible. But it's hard not to wonder if the Patriots dynamic and outspoken tight end was making a farewell address of sorts at the end of Tuesday's rolling rally, just moments before joining his Super Bowl LI champion teammates at Boston City Hall Plaza for an address to the fans. "We already knew we had the best fans in the country," Bennett told reporters as he held his daughter Jett. "Super excited. There was a lot of energy, a lot of love. I'm happy." Does he actually believe the comeback happened on Sunday? "Do I believe it?! [Shoot], I won the Super Bowl. What do you mean I believe it? It happened. I was there," Bennett said. What was it like? "It's cool. Awesome. It's amaze-balls," Bennett said. "I felt like for a couple of hours, [being] with these guys on this team again, one more time we were kings. We were kings for a couple of hours." Amaze-balls. Just another part of the lexicon that has made Bennett one of a kind in New England, as Chris Price documented in great detail. Bennett was the star of Super Bowl opening night, carrying on an in-depth conversation with J.B. Smoove about black unicorns and life in general at the Super Bowl. Then Bennett, who enters free agency for the third time, began to wax very philosophical. "I'm a champion. You can't take that from me. I'm a champion today, I'll be a champion tomorrow," he said. "I'll be a champion for the rest of my life. And the 2016 Patriots will always be champions. It's pretty cool. I had to change my bio: 'Super Bowl champion, NSA." It's pretty awesome. I'm super-excited." NSA is an acronym for "no strings attached" and indeed he is once again. But listening to Bennett, this felt different, and not just because he had just earned his first Super Bowl ring. Bennett, who turns 30 on March 10, is in line for likely the last big deal of his career. He has said all along this season that he's not worried about the money because he's been smart and diversified in his investments. Still, a lot of teams could come calling, and with Rob Gronkowski's future clouded by injuries and uncertainty over a contract extension, Bennett is in a position of power. It's worth noting Bennett took time to thank the fans and the media, whom he felt treated as fairly as any market he's ever played, which includes Dallas, New York and Chicago. "I appreciate you guys. You guys were awesome to me this year," Bennett said of the media. "I appreciate all you guys. I don't know what next year is going to be like but I appreciate all the love and all the fans and everyone gave me. You guys were awesome. You guys were very cordial and very professional with me all year with the interviews and everything. I appreciate you guys. Nothing but love for everyone here in this city. I'm always going to be a part of this city because they can't take this from us." While Julian Edelman will be fondly remembered for his miracle catch on the game-tying drive of the Super Bowl, it was Bennett who had a key role in setting up the game-winner. He drew a 13-yard pass interference call on linebacker De'Vondre Campbell that put the Patriots at the Falcons 2. He nearly caught the game-winner in the end zone before it was knocked away by Vic Beasley. "I wanted to get it because I knew I was going to be open when he called the play," Bennett said after the game. "I had him by a couple steps." On the next play, James White ran it in for the Super Bowl-winning score. Will that be the final play in a Patriots uniform?