NFL Teams
Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer 8d

Packers players defend team doctor after Martellus Bennett barbs

NFL, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Martellus Bennett disputes that the Green Bay Packers should have released him with the "failure to disclose a physical condition" designation.

The veteran tight end was cut on Wednesday and claimed off waivers by the New England Patriots on Thursday. 

Bennett signed a three-year, $21 million contract that included a $6.3 million signing bonus in free agency. He played in just seven games for the Packers.

Bennett used his Instagram Story -- the same avenue he used to post during the bye week that he was "pretty sure" he would retire after this season -- to tell his side of the story.

"The packers examined my shoulder on my visit March 10 and cleared it," he wrote. "They even gave me an xray as well. It got worse during the season, specifically against the Cowboys so I asked to have it checked out and we checked it. After a few days of contemplating to play with it or get surgery, I chose surgery. Now here we are ..."

Bennett, however, passed his physical with the Patriots on Friday and was on the practice field. Still, he posted that he wasn't happy that the Packers' longtime team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie allegedly encouraged him to play. McKenzie, however, has long been known as one of the most conservative doctors around the league.

"They tried to f--- me over," Bennett continued on his Instagram story. "Dr. McKenzie trying to cover his own ass. After trying to persuade me to play thru a major injury and choosing to get surgery.

"They have access to all my medical records. My shoulder wasn't where it is now at the beginning of the season. I f----- it up playing for the @packers.

"Dr. McKenzie didn't make [me] feel safe and was pushing to play, which I thought was weird. Not that he was trying to get me to play thru it but the way he was saying things. I didn't trust him. So I got 3 other opinions from doctors who all said I need to get it fixed. So I decided to do that. And they decided to waive me the some bulls--- excuse. Failure [to] disclose.

"Every week we do a body evaluation sheet in the weight room and pretty much every week I circled my shoulder. I just kept playing but it got worse.

"During the bye week I got off anti inflammatories to clean my system and could really feel the pain. So I asked to examine it first day back in. And that's when we found out it was really f----- up."

"They knew.

"They panicked. Thinking that I was trying to go on IR and be on their books next year. When I mentioned that I would possible retire. So they tried to f--- me before they thought I would f--- them. This was all about money.

"All about money. I get it. But don't lie homie. You knew wtf was up.

"I had intentions of playing all 8 games as I mentioned in the post during the bye week, but found out it was worse than I felt after getting it checked out.

"Now I'm like f--- it.

"I chose my health over the 'team'. They chose money over me."

The first public hint of a shoulder injury came after Bennett returned from the bye week. He practiced with the team during their first workout Tuesday but was on the field the next day and later showed up on the injury report.

The Packers did not have any comment after Bennett's post but several players took to social media to express their support for McKenzie. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is currently on injured reserve as he recovers from surgery for a broken collarbone, posted an image of him and McKenzie on Instagram.  

"I've been working with Dr. McKenzie for 13 years, and as well as being a phenomenal doctor, he's also become a close friend. He's done surgery on me twice, and I trust him and his opinion implicitly," Rodgers said in the Instagram post. "Doc has always tried to protect me and my future, even if it meant protecting me from myself and my desire to get back on the field before I should."

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson also posted a statement on Twitter later on Friday to defend the organization and its medical team.

Earlier Friday, coach Mike McCarthy addressed the situation.

"I'm not going to get into the Patriots claiming Marty, I'll just reiterate what I said yesterday: I just know what the facts are and how the timeline came about," McCarthy said. "I talked to him Tuesday [following the bye week] after practice and he [had] a shoulder concern injury. I advised him to get the second opinions. He did that and he went to a number of them. The last medical conversation I was involved with in regards to Marty, they were talking about scheduling surgery. After that, then you have the termination and then the claim. I really don't have any comments on that. I've answered the question for the last time, respectfully."

Questions persisted all week in the Packers' locker room about whether Bennett quit on the team after quarterback Rodgers went down with his injury.

Said tight end Richard Rodgers: "I think we know where we're trying to go. If someone is not on that boat, it's better that they're not here. We're looking to move on. We know our ultimate goal. We have to continue to execute on offense."

Bennett is questionable for Sunday night's game in Denver with a shoulder injury. He was limited in practice Friday, per the Patriots' participation report.

ESPN's Mike Reiss contributed to this report.

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