Bennett at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
No. 83 Chicago Bears
|Date of birth:March 10, 1987|
|Place of birth: Houston, Texas|
|College: Texas A&M|
|NFL Draft: 2008 / Round: 2 / Pick: 61|
|Debuted in 2008 for the Dallas Cowboys|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 10, 2013
Martellus Demond Bennett (born March 10, 1987) is an American football tight end for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. He was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys and played with them and the New York Giants previously. He played college football at Texas A&M. He is the younger brother of Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.
Bennett played football and basketball at Alief Taylor High School in Alief, Texas. He was a three-year starter and two-time All-District and All-Greater Houston selection at tight end. As a sophomore, he averaged 12.4 yards per catch. During his junior year, he grabbed 13 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns. In his senior year, he caught a team-high of 42 catches for 487 yards and six touchdowns, earning first-team Class 5A all-state honors from the Texas Sports Writers Association. He also averaged 23 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a senior in basketball. He played in the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
As a college football prospect in his senior year of high school, Bennett was a five-star recruit ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 1 tight end and No. 8 best player in the 2005 prospect class. He was recruited by Texas A&M, Duke, Kansas, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, and Texas. Although originally committed to play for Miami, he chose to sign a National Letter of Intent to play for Texas A&M.
After his senior season, Bennett decided to declare for the 2005 NBA Draft, though did not hire an agent, intending to go to college if he did not get selected in the first round. NBA scouts informed him that it was unlikely he would, causing him to withdraw from the draft a few days prior. As a result, he decided to enroll in classes in the second summer session at Texas A&M.
In his freshman season at Texas A&M University, he caught 18 passes for 162 yards and 3 touchdowns, earning freshman All-American honors from Sporting News. In his sophomore season, he was named one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's top tight end, after making 38 catches for 497 yards and three touchdowns. On October 28, 2006, he caught a career-high of 133 yards and two touchdowns on five catches against Baylor. He was named the Mackey Award Player of the Week after the game. He finished his sophomore season with All-Big 12 Second Team honors. In his junior season, he made 49 receptions for 587 yards and four touchdowns. After his junior season, an NFL committee indicated to Bennett that he would be a first or second-round pick in the NFL Draft, so Bennett decided to skip his senior season and declare early.
In his three seasons at Texas A&M University, Bennett caught 105 passes for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 105 receptions equal the school record of most receptions by a tight end. He only averaged 34.6 yards per game, though many felt that his head coach, Dennis Franchione, who ran a run-oriented offense, did not properly utilize his talent. After his sophomore season, Bennett recorded a rap song called "Throw me the ball coach," and made a remix of it with his teammates.
Bennett also played basketball for Texas A&M for two seasons under head coach Billy Gillispie, but decided to focus on football in January 2007. In the 2005–06 season—his first—he became the first Texas A&M athlete since 1969 to letter in both basketball and football. He played in 26 games his freshman season, averaging 1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds. In his sophomore season, before choosing football, he averaged 0.5 points and 0.5 rebounds.
At the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine, Bennett finished the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds, ranking seventh out of the eight tight ends in his group. He ranked third in the vertical jump (34 inches) and fifth in the broad jump (9–9). Along with 30 other prospects, he was invited to the Dallas Cowboys' Valley Ranch headquarters for a pre-draft visit on April 17–18, 2008.
A week prior to the draft, an Associated Press sports writer critiqued Bennett's playing abilities as follows: "Played basketball for the Aggies as well, and has the athletic ability to be a nice red-zone target. Lack of speed means he’s not a deep threat, but once he improves his routes, his strength and size should make him an asset. Needs to improve zone recognition, too. Good, aggressive blocker."
After trading former second round draft choice Anthony Fasano, the Dallas Cowboys selected Bennett in the second round (61st overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. According to Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones, Bennett was selected not because they needed a backup tight end, but to "add a new dimension" by being part of a two tight end offense. In the 2008 preseason, Bennett learned technique from tight end Jason Witten. During the preseason camps, the documentary series Hard Knocks initially portrayed Martellus as a lazy and unmotivated player. Although Bennett was initially having trouble learning the Cowboys' offense, he worked hard to improve, as later episodes of Hard Knocks showed.
He agreed to a four-year contract with the team on July 24. He was given the No. 2 tight end position over Tony Curtis. Bennett finished his rookie season with 20 receptions for 283 yards and four touchdowns.
Before the start of his second season, the Cincinnati Bengals offered a future first round draft choice in exchange for Bennett, but the Cowboys declined. In 2009 he regressed as a receiver, compiling only 15 catches for 159 yards and no touchdowns.
In a January 2010 news conference following the season, Jerry Jones indicated that while Bennett had breakout potential, he needed to put in the focus to meet it. Still it was a concern that he was being pushed in preseason for the backup job by John Phillips, until Phillips was lost for the season with an ACL tear. Bennett recorded in 2010 a then career high 33 catches, but for only 260 yards and no touchdowns.
During his time with the Cowboys, he sometimes brought attention to himself by making controversial quotes and YouTube videos. Raising some eyebrows with his "Black Olympics" video or his radio interview, where he stated that backup quarterback Jon Kitna deserved a chance to compete for the starting job, after filling in for the injured Tony Romo during the 2010 season. He had an injury plagued preseason in 2011, with an injured hamstring and right high ankle strain, keeping him out of two out of four preseason games and two regular season games, finishing the year with 17 catches, for 144 yards and no touchdowns.
Although he could never realize his playmaking potential as the second string tight end behind Witten, he did develop as an excellent blocker. Before the start of the 2012 season, the Cowboys offered a similar free agent deal as the one he received from the New York Giants, but he decided to leave, in order to have the opportunity to start.
New York Giants
On March 14, 2012, he signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the New York Giants. After his weight ballooned to 295 pounds in the off-season, when asked about his conditioning during an interview, he responded: "I'm stronger than I've ever been, I'm faster than I've ever been. I could run all day. I'm kind of like a black unicorn out there". In the regular season he got his weight under control and recorded 55 receptions for 626 yards and five touchdowns, while playing through different injuries.
Bennett is a friend of former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett. After Everett's career-ending neck injury in 2007, Bennett chose to honor Everett by wearing his jersey number for two games during his 2007 junior season at Texas A&M.
He is also known for his sense of humor. As a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter put it, Bennett "had more memorable quotes than memorable catches at Texas A&M". After being drafted by the Cowboys, Bennett stated, when referring to incumbent quarterback Tony Romo: "Any quarterback that can get Jessica Simpson, I’ve got to play with him". The Cowboys addressed his comment shortly afterwards. During an interview at the NFL Combine, when asked about his interest in both basketball and football, he responded: "Football is my wife and basketball is my mistress".
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