HOUSTON — It’s easier to be magnanimous during Super Bowl week.
Martellus Bennett said Monday night he had no hard feelings toward the Bears, who dealt him to the Patriots in March. While it was probably the best thing to ever happen to the mercurial tight end, he admitted some fault in the breakdown of his relationship with the Bears.
“There were a lot of [things] I could’ve done differently and a lot of [things] that could’ve been done differently,” he said at Minute Maid Park. “It was just one of those things — you date somebody, and you don’t really break up, but it was the best move for both sides. I have no hard feelings toward Chicago or the management or anything like that. So I wish them the best of luck.”
Bennett paused for dramatic effect and screamed at the top of his lungs: “But I’m in the Super Bowl.”
Bennett, who lives in Chicago, detailed the way things went wrong. He greeted new coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace in 2015 by refusing to report to offseason activities until threatened with a fine. Fresh off a Pro Bowl season, he wanted a new contract.
Instead, after the season, the Bears traded him, along with a sixth-round pick, for a fourth-round selection.
“I held out during [offseason activities],” Bennett said. “We really didn’t get to know each other that well. Then I came back in late. There was a holdout. You wanna get paid. So you got a disgruntled athlete, which I was.
“And then I broke my ribs, so I really couldn’t finish the season. It sucked to not finish what I started with the guys I was there with. But change is inevitable. For me, right now, I’m in a great place.”
How great? Former Bears linebacker Shea McClellin, a Patriots free-agent signee, and Bennett talk often about their good fortune.
“Almost every day, for sure,” McClellin said. “Every day we’re just excited to be here.”
Bennett seemed more upset about the situation in August, refusing interviews during the three days the Bears trained alongside his Patriots as well as after their preseason game. But he was at ease Monday, calling himself the “Black Dr. Seuss” and talking about how special it was to return to his hometown for the biggest game of his life.
“I’m happy with football,” said Bennett, who caught 55 passes for 701 yards in the regular season. “This is the most fun I’ve had playing the game. I’m excited about practice every day because you’re around a group of guys where everyone cares about the same thing and everyone’s on the straight-and-narrow path to the same direction, which was here, to the Super Bowl.”
Bennett, who was the Bears’ primary tight end, said he was excited to join Rob Gronkowski, though the all-world tight end was limited to eight games before undergoing season-ending back surgery.
“You want to go to a situation where it’s established,” he said. “Different opportunities. But it’s a place where I knew what they could do with two tight ends.”
He said he feels like Batman in a movie without Robin — though he prefers the Dynamic Duo together.
“It’s good because iron sharpens iron,” he said. “Being around him makes me a better player, too. I just wish we got more games together. And maybe we will in the future. I think it was good. I got the good side of the coin.”
A free agent after the season, Bennett could theoretically go anywhere he wants next season.
It seems unlikely.
“Possibly,” he said. “I live in Chicago. It’s close to home. But I don’t know.”
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