I’m not sure anybody saw that coming. In the midst of the spiral the Packers find themselves in, we have the drama of what just unfolded between the organization and Martellus Bennett. Allow me to give you a brief timeline of events before telling you actually just happened.

October 15th
Packers lose to the Vikings 23-10 after losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collar bone. The team appears lifeless on offense after his departure.

October 22nd
In the first game without Aaron Rodgers as the starting quarterback, the Packers appear to be a shell of themselves, losing at home to the Saints 26-17.

October 28th
Martellus Bennett announces via his instagram account that he plans to retire at the conclusion of the season, despite having signed a three-year deal with the Packers in the offseason.

November 6th
Bennett is held out of the Packer’s 30-17 beating at the hands of the Lions due to what is listed as a shoulder injury.

November 7th
Bennett is ruled out for the Packers game against the Bears on November 12th, curiously far in advance of the game.

November 8th
Bennett is cut by the Packers with a “failure to disclose injury” tag. The move saves the team money and allows the team to possibly get an additional compensatory draft pick, but it also suggest something went on between the team and Bennett behind the scenes.

November 9th
Bennett is picked up on waivers by the Patriots, the team he played for last year.

November 10th
After not practicing in Green Bay for two weeks, Bennett suits up at New England’s Friday practice. After practice, Bennett goes on a twitter tirade about his injury and how the Packers’ staff treated him. See that rant here.

Prior to the rest of what I say, allow me to preface with this, there have been few bigger fans of Bennett in Green Bay to this point than yours truly. I praised his signing in the offseason, lauded him as an individual who backed up his beliefs and stood behind them with conviction, and I praised him through his seven games with the team, citing his attitude and impact that went beyond his apparently less than satisfactory stats. Those are all things in the past. The present is a very different story.

The events that have unfolded in this ordeal have been strange and unpredictable, to say the least. In the end, we have here a player who lived up to the disgruntled tag that preceded him following his stints in Dallas, New York, and Chicago. We have a player who, ultimately, didn’t want to weather the storm any longer in Green Bay.

Bennett claims that he had multiple doctors tell him he needed to get his shoulder injury, a torn rotator cuff, surgically fixed. The Packers’ team doctor, supposedly, tried to get Bennett to play through the issue, which was the source of contention leading to his being cut. Keep in mind, the Packers are known for having one of the most cautious medical staffs in the NFL, former fullback John Kuhn tweeted his praise for Dr. McKenzie of the medical staff after Bennett’s rant. Even with that in mind, this story may have been believable if he didn’t wind up in New England and practice his first day there. Now, being that he was waived he had no part in deciding what team picked him up, but his participation in practice sheds light on the significance of his injury and makes one thing clear, he doesn’t need surgery in order to play.

Given the information available, there is only one logical conclusion. Whether or not Bennett was serious about retirement, his actions speak loud and clear, he’ll play when he wants to play, and sit when he wants to sit. Without Aaron Rodgers, Martellus said, “nah, can’t do it.” With a top quarterback in Tom Brady? “Nevermind, I can tough it out.” Regardless of what you think of Bennett as a tight end, his attitude impacted the locker room. We’ll take the players who simply strap up a little bit tighter when adversity strikes, not the players who tuck and run.

Martellus Bennett sitting prior to a game.
Several players and former players have issued comments on the situation. With fellow tight end Richard Rodgers saying, “I think we know what where we’re trying to go. If someone is not on that boat it’s better that they’re not here.” Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari tried to avoid the situation, but he did give a brief statement, saying, “We’re just disappointed with what happened with him. It was high expectations, and a good guy that came in, but just kind of – it sucks. Kind of disappointed with how he handled stuff, how it went about.”

Packer fans, don’t be upset he’s gone. Don’t worry about how it impacts the offense, given the state of affairs that doesn’t really matter. To Martellus, and to any player who isn’t interested in sticking to the team when hard times hit, our message is simple. We don’t want quitters. Get out, goodbye, good riddance.

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