IRVING -- Martellus Bennett isn't interested in talking, which is noteworthy. So after politely asking for just a few questions, I relent with a playful, "So middle finger to me?" He smiles, "Yeah. Middle finger to you. You can quote me on that."
This was just in fun because that is what Martellus Bennett does. Martellus Bennett is a screwball, and he is happy with that. This is a 14-year-old trapped in a 24-year-old body.
Before he walked away, I asked, "Why are you one of these guys that everyone has such high expectations..."
At this point, he cut me off and said, "Let me tell you this -- none of you has higher expectations of myself than I do."
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And with that he walked away.
If this is the case, and this is who Bennett is, the time has come for all of us to be OK with it. Everyone from coaches to scouts to the fans to the media has made this guy into something that he is not.
Bennett certainly isn't a victim, but he is a classic case of a guy stuck in an NFL Draft box that he himself didn't build. But he certainly has enjoyed some of its amenities, and annoyances. Right now, Bennett is a nice NFL blocking tight end. He probably will not be re-signed by the Cowboys in the off-season, but picked up by another team for which he will play for several more years because he simply is such a remarkable athlete.
An athlete so talented that, if he wanted, he likely could be used as a wide receiver in certain sets for the Cowboys on Sunday against the Lions. God knows the Cowboys' thin receiving corps could use the help. But to ask Martellus to do this is to ask someone to speak fluent Spanish when he may really not know much beyond "No hablo Ingles" or "Buenos dias, señor."
That is not who Martellus is, and never has been since he went to College Station.
Since he began his career as one of the crown jewels of Dennis Franchione's recruiting class, Martellus was going to be the guy that got the Aggies moving, and help Texas A&M overtake UT.
When that did not happen, it was Fran's fault. The defense was Fran wasn't using Bennett the right way.
By this logic, it also is Fran's fault that Martellus' last touchdown catch came on Nov. 27, 2008.
At 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, and faster than most linebackers, Bennett on paper is a matchup from hell that should have a few more scores. Not many men can do the types of things Bennett can. Martellus has the look of a gold medal Olympian, in the sport of his choice.
When the 2008 NFL Draft came around, one of the things that Cowboys director of scouting Tom Ciskowski said in the draft room on the HBO series Hard Knocks was that Bennett was super talented, but that he needed someone to step on his throat.
Ciskowski's point was Bennett could be a steal if he was properly motivated.
Maybe this is what Bennett is, and he is properly motivated. Bennett's numbers may never be huge because he plays behind Jason Witten, but his stats should be better than this: one catch for 6 yards in 2011.
Now in his fourth year in the NFL, it should be accepted that Bennett is not going to be another Witten, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez or anyone else. He is just Marty B, which is good enough for the NFL, and good enough for him.
"I think he's done a good job. He has a role on this team that is really important," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We use two tight ends a lot, and Martellus is typically the other tight end next to Jason Witten.... Martellus in his role has blocked more and been a complementary receiver and, I think if you watch as a run blocker and a pass blocker, he's shown up each and every week."
For most tight ends that would be fine. The problem we have is that not only was Marty B a second-round pick, but we are just so absolutely certain he is better than what the numbers indicate. Blocking tight ends can be found in rookie free agency.
But I never recall Marty B, amid his raps or self-promotion, telling us that he's Antonio Gates or Witten. I always recall Marty B messing around, blocking and catching a few passes.
The numbers, the eyeball test, Marty B TV and 48 NFL games say this is what he is. He plays football for a living and earns six figures. It is time for everyone from coaches to scouts to the fans to the media to accept that is what Martellus Bennett is.
Follow Mac Engel on Twitter @MacEngelProf and The Big Mac Blog.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697