“It’s a place I wanted to be. This is a football city. This is a sports city.”
Words from Michael Bennett’s opening statement during his first media availability in Philadelphia.
The defensive end/tackle hybrid spoke for about 20 minutes this afternoon, touching on a variety of topics from his trade (he was in Japan when he got the news), to playing in the Eagles’ defensive scheme, to whether or not he’ll bring his social justice activism from Seattle to Philly.
Most of the transcription below:
Q: Why do you think you were you traded?
Bennett: I don’t know. I think in any organization there’s a shelf life, a time for everybody. You end up just running your course. I think there’s a time when organizations want to move forward and play young guys, but still have guys who are older but can still play at a high level and you want to get value for them. That’s just part of the business. You respect everybody in the organization for their opinion, but you look forward to new opportunities that are in front of you, and this is a great opportunity for me. It’s not like I was traded to a bad team. This is the team in the NFL, the #1 team. It’s the opportunity to be a part of something even greater.
Q: Have you lobbied the franchise to bring your brother Martellus here?
Bennett: Nah, I would love for my brother to play here, but no pressure on the organization to bring him in. It’s always been a dream of mine to play with him and win a championship with him and just go out there on Sundays and have the kids play together. It almost happened before in Chicago, but it would be great to have him here.
Q: Are you comfortable with a lesser role? Fewer snaps?
Bennett: Oh yea, I’m comfortable with taking less plays. But I like I said, I came here to be an All-Star and continue to play at a Pro Bowl level. I don’t think that’s any different with taking snaps off, and having more longevity to a career is something that every player wishes and dreams about. When you think of this organization and play counts and snaps, (it’s about) keeping guys fresh for the moments that count. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not about September and October and November, it’s about January and February. To be able to keep guys fresh and have those opportunities where you have guys to be able to keep rushing the quarterback as savage as we can, you know, you have to go out there and play savage every single play. I think having less snaps can give you the opportunity to do that.
Q: Defensive scheme, differences between Seattle and Philly and playing the inside/outside?
Bennett: I think Seattle did the same thing, allowed us to flourish in the best positions. I think this defense is no different. If you look at Jim Schwartz over the years as a defensive line coach or coordinator or head coach, he’s always put the defensive line in a position to be great, whether it’s Detroit, Tennessee, he’s always had his linemen be the greater part of the defense when it comes to (rushing). This is no different, this situation. It plays to my hand to be around other great players. To have the opportunity to play with them is a blessing.
Q: Plantar fasciitis injury from last year? How much did it affect you and do you have to do anything with it in the offseason?
Bennett: Nah, you just rest man. In the game, the media always judge you and say you’re injured, but I think in the NFL every player is injured, it’s just about who can play through the injuries and who can play through the tough situations, whatever their body is dealing with, or whatever’s happening at home. How can you go out there and play at a high level? For me that’s never been a problem, no matter what I was dealing with I always came out and played as hard as I could and always gave everything. I don’t think that’s any different in this situation. I’ll go out there and give every single thing every single time.
Q: Did your trade have anything to do with reports that Seattle was looking to have less “activism” in the locker room? Did you give any weight to that at all?
Bennett: I don’t think so. I think me and coach Carroll’s relationship goes further than player to coach. It goes from human being to human being, and man to man. I think we’ve always had a great relationship as far as my respect for him as a man and his respect for me as a man. I don’t think there was ever an issue with him, I think it was just more about getting value for players where you can get (it). If you look at some of the great teams, and sometimes they hold on to players too long – the Pittsburgh Steelers and some of those other guys when they had some of their vets. I think (Seattle) just wanted to go younger. And no disrespect to them, but it’s a greater respect to me to be able to have teams that want me to come play for their organization. Howie (Roseman) called me and expressed the value he sees in me as a player, and as the man I am. I think that’s something that’s very honorable.
Q: What type of relationship do you have with Malcolm Jenkins through the player’s coalition?
Bennett: I would talk to Malcolm once a week during the season just because we were doing so much together. He’s a man’s man and an honorable person and he believes what he believes in. For me, to be part of an organization with people like that, and a team that’s committed like that from top to bottom is something I look forward to. I think me coming to Philly isn’t just about winning championships on the field. I want to be a champion off the field and be able to work in the community all across the city and give back and work with youth and young women. To be able to do those things is something I feel is important to me as a person and my development as a man.
Q: How aware were you that the Eagles have an owner who supports player expression?
Bennett: I think it was easy to see. You see the work the organization is trying to do. You see the work some of the players are trying to do. You can see the organization is one of those that’s trying to be the best they can when it comes to participating in off the field issues and participating in the community.
Q: Do you plan on continuing your national anthem protest?
Bennett: I’m just here to talk about football today, just to go out and keep working and keep doing what I can, on and off the field, and keep being a great leader. I think right now this is about me fitting in with this team and finding out what my role is as a player and letting everything else happens as it happens. But right now I think the main focus is to come in and be the best teammate, the best player, and best leader I can possibly be to the young players, and come in and find out who the veterans are and lean on them for guidance about the city and how to move around.
Q: Eagles difference and how it compares to the Seattle scheme? (similar to earlier question)
Bennett: It’s attractive; I think in Seattle there was a little bit more responsibility because we played a little bit of a different defense, but I still played with great defensive linemen. Cliff Avril, one of the best to play the game. I had so many great players around me who were some of the best to ever play. This defense is just another opportunity to line up on tight ends. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a tight end in the NFL who can block me. I know Eli Manning is probably watching this and thinking, ‘yes, I’m coming.’ I know Dak is watching this and saying, ‘yea he’s coming.’ Yea, I am. And Alex Smith, he knows he can’t run from me. I told him in the Pro Bowl. It’s definitely gonna be a great season and it will be fun to be out here and be able to chase quarterbacks. I just know third down, and second down and first down, is gonna be fun.
Tune in now as defensive end Michael Bennett meets with the media. https://t.co/X7C63UmvxA
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 19, 2018