And yes, it was personal. That end was Michael Bennett, Martellus’ older brother. The Bennett brothers will reprise their rivalry Sunday, when Martellus’ new team, the Giants, host the Bucs in MetLife Stadium.
“It’s extremely weird,” Martellus said today. “Last year, I had to switch with Witten, so I (wouldn’t) block him that many times. We’re not the type of brothers where it’s like, ‘Hey, I’m kicking your (butt) all day.’ We’re more like, ‘Hey brother, good job.’ We push each other more so than trying to have the bragging rights in the family.”
The Bennetts grew up in Alief, Texas and played at Texas A&M. They were born just 14 months apart and are extremely close.
“We never fought growing up,” Martellus said. “If you fought him, you had to fight me. We were those types of kids, so everybody in the neighborhood knew that if you messed with Michael, Martellus is going to come from out of nowhere. Sometimes I wouldn’t even be around and I’d just appear and I’d just jump in the fight. It’s going to be pretty cool (on Sunday).”
The two brothers played on the same unit briefly at Taylor High School, where Martellus was an All-America tight end.
“For (about) three weeks I was a defensive end,” Bennett said. “He was on the one end. I was on the other end. We were the reason why the high school has blue jerseys for the quarterbacks now, because we were taking them out.”
They finally separated when Martellus left Texas A&M after three seasons and was selected by Dallas in the second round of the 2008 draft, one year before Michael played his first game for the Bucs. Michael wasn’t yet with Tampa Bay when the Cowboys and Buccaneers met in the 2009 season opener, so Dallas’ 31-15 victory last Dec. 17 was the first time they faced each other in the NFL.
Martellus arranged it so he wouldn’t have to block his brother too often.
“I didn’t want to have to go against him,” Martellus said. “I go hard. I play extremely hard and you don’t want to be the guy where you hurt your brother. This week, I was just telling him, ‘Hey, you got to suck it up. We’ve just got to go at each other. It will be fun and we’ll just see who comes out on top and then if I win, you’ve got to buy me something nice. If you win, I’ll get you something nice,’ so I look forward to it.”
So what did Michael buy Martellus after Dallas’ victory last season?
“I just told him don’t worry about it,” Martellus said. “It’s not your fault, brother. It’s not your fault.”
The Bennett brothers talk or text several times a day. They worked out together in the offseason in Florida and Hawaii, where Michael was married shortly before training camp opened.
“The only time we don’t talk is when we’re practicing or in meetings,” Martellus said.
The Giants’ Bennett has enjoyed studying up on the Bucs’ Bennett this week.
“It’s fun when they do the scouting report and they talk about your brother and how good a player he is,” Martellus said. “So that’s a blessing in this league to have two Bennetts. We’re super, super close and we do pretty much everything together. Some people think we’re twins although I think I look a lot better than him. He’s just one of those guys who has a high motor that comes hard every single play and they show us highlights in the meeting when we go over the scouting report, so that’s pretty exciting.
“Last year when I played against him, it was different because we both weren’t starters. We kind of rotated in and whatever, so this year it’s going to be different because it’s us going every single play. There was one time last year, he got a sack against (Tony) Romo and I was on the sideline and I was like, ‘Yeah! Good sack! Good sack!’ It’s just one of things where you’re happy for him and you’re happy to see the success. He recently got married. My nieces are beautiful. He has a beautiful family and he’s one of the guys I look up to in life and part of the reason why I grew a beard was to be more like him.”
The beard, like almost everything else, prompts another entertaining Martellus Bennett quote.
“It’s a battle of the beards,” he said. “I think mine is going to be a little bit better. I’m going to comb mine out and groom it. His is a little sloppy, so it will be exciting.”
The entire weekend will be one to remember for Martellus and Michael and their loved ones.
“I think it will be a good chance to represent our family and do things the right way,” Martellus said. “I’m extremely proud and humbled by the experience, so I just look forward to getting out there with them.
“There are a lot of things that we both want to accomplish in life and I think this is one of our first dreams that we both had that’s coming true. He’s starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I’m here starting for the New York Football Giants, so it doesn’t get much better of that for the Bennett family.”