GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Maybe Martellus Bennett would’ve slept better on the floor of the Lambeau Field locker room Tuesday night if he had been wearing the foam cheesehead he donned for his session with reporters on Thursday.
After the first practice of training camp, Bennett put on the familiar prop that some Packers fans wear to games, and as only the loquacious veteran tight end can, he spoke to reporters for nearly 30 minutes and never took it off.
“I usually like the metaphorical cheese that goes in my pocket, but the cheese that goes on my head works as well,” Bennett said. “I’ve had this for a while. Sometimes I wear it around the building just to let the guys know that I’m part of the culture. I like it, though.”
Bennett, 30, signed a three-year, $21 million contract to come to Green Bay -- which he says is probably his last stop in the NFL -- after he won the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots last postseason. He said he spent some of that cash in the Packers’ Pro Shop -- although he did get a 30 percent employee discount -- and bought the cheesehead that has been hanging in his locker since early in the offseason.
Two days earlier, Bennett slept in front of his locker for the night because he couldn’t get into the dorms at nearby St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, where the Packers sleep during training camp. It was far from a restful night.
"I usually like the metaphorical cheese that goes in my pocket, but the cheese that goes on my head works as well."“I was really sleepy throughout the day yesterday, but I toughed it through,” Bennett said Thursday. “It’s kind of weird sleeping in a corporate environment; you never get too comfortable. I like to Winnie the Pooh it, which is just sleep in, like, a hoodie, and nothing else, like Winnie the Pooh, but I can’t do that here because if I Winnie the Pooh’d it here in my locker, it’s just weird. So I couldn’t get too comfortable to get too much sleep.”Packers tight end Martellus Bennett
Bennett is something of an anomaly in Green Bay, both because he’s one of the few veteran free agents the Packers have signed and because they haven’t had a player this outgoing in years.
At the end of his session with reporters, he handed out copies of his new comic book.
“My journey’s just a little bit different than anybody else’s -- different teams, different places, learned different things, different environments,” Bennett said. “They all made me a better person. I think there’s some privileges for being in one place for a long time, but there’s also privileges of being in several different systems and learning from several different people.”
If Bennett’s “big personality” -- as Packers coach Mike McCarthy called it -- has worn thin with some of his previous teams, the locker room in Green Bay appears to have embraced him. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels playfully took part in the interview session by asking questions, and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix urged Bennett to wear the cheesehead.
But Bennett’s fun-loving nature doesn't mean he’s just here for the laughs.
“The thing about Marty that we're learning, and I think you guys will all learn, he's always prepared,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “I mean, he's ready to go, if he's on three hours of sleep, up all night drawing pictures, watching Nickelodeon, or if he's gotten seven-eight hours of sleep. I'm not worried about Marty or his preparation at all.
“We haven't had too many dynamic personalities like that in my 13 years. I can think of a few, obviously Charles Woodson, Johnny Jolly was one. Marty is a great addition to the locker room; we're glad he's a Packer.”
Bennett appreciated the compliment, saying, “It don’t look like I prepare for anything with this hat on, but I like to have fun while I’m doing what I’m doing.”
He also didn’t understand why anyone would think his personality would get in the way.
“That makes no sense to me,” Bennett said. “I feel like getting your work done is fun. Just do it in a fun way. I’ve never not gotten my work done because I’m having fun. I’m having fun while getting my work done.”
McCarthy says he isn’t here to quash Bennett’s personality.
"I think, No. 1, we all like personality,” he said. “This is a tough business. You spend a lot of time, so creativity and laughter are definitely good things to have in your culture. He's a big personality and I think he's fitting in very well with our football team."