By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
HOUSTON (CBS) — Most football players who are just three days away from playing in their first Super Bowl would shy away from questions about their contract situations and their impending free agency.
Martellus Bennett is not most football players.
The veteran tight end has performed admirably for the Patriots this year, and as he enters his age 30 season, he’s in line to make perhaps the last huge-money contract of his playing career.
He said Thursday at the Patriots team hotel in Houston that he hopes to remain in New England, but it’s not quite that simple.
“I mean, yeah, if it works out. I like it here,” Bennett said when asked of his hopes to return. “I love New England, I love the people, I love the fans. I think it’s something super great, not only on the field but off the field, I’ve been able to do a lot of stuff in the community in a very short time. I just love the people — the football team’s good too. But it’s very rare that you find a community that embraces you. … One of my nicknames is ‘Everyone’s BFF’ [Best Friend Forever]. So, I feel like in Boston and Massachusetts, I feel like I am everyone’s BFF.”
Still, as every player in NFL history has said before, football is a business. And given the short careers of players, and given the soaring profits of the league, it’s in their best interests to maximize their dollar value if possible.
But once again, it’s not as simple as taking top dollar.
“You do the math. Of course, there’s a number that every guy has to make, because you only get so many opportunities to actually get paid in the NFL,” Bennett said. “You want to make as much money as you can while you’re doing this, because this game is not guaranteed. Every guy needs to get paid, and every guy probably feels like they should get paid more. And I would agree with them.
“But, you know it’s like, what is your motive right now? What are you doing? Is it championships or is it a place where you can build your legacy to do things after football? Like, hey, this is where I want to build — I mean, I’ll probably retire in four years, so is this where I want to live in four years? Should I do that in Jacksonville? Probably not. So it’s jut kind of like, just a bunch of things, families, schools, there’s so much [stuff] that goes into it. It’s crazy. It’s tough.”
Bennett, who had played in just two career playoff games prior to this season, also said he recognizes the value of being on a championship team.
“Hell yeah! Even like this year, I feel like I’ve been awesome for a really long time. Like, I didn’t just become myself this year. You know, see, I’ve been the same guy for a long time. But like, when you’re winning, it’s like you’re even more awesome,” Bennett said. “It’s like you’ve got that cake that’s really good but does not have icing on that cake. And everybody wants a piece of the cake. And it’s like, everybody wants to be associated with winners. When you try to get endorsements, it’s easier when you’re with a winning team, because every company wants to associate with winners. They don’t do commercials like, ‘We’ve got the five-time non-playoff guy on the TV screen, but he’s great! You should wear the shoes that he’s wearing!’ They don’t do that, you know? ‘Oh, go eat what he eats. He’s definitely a loser!’
“Everybody wants to push winners, because winners sell better. So I think there is something to be said about that.”