Michael Bennett’s Wise Words

There are many reasons I like Michael Bennett. Bennett, Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle, is a smart and talented man. Bennett says funny things. He says what he thinks. Sometimes he is controversial. Sometimes he rides a bicycle on the field post-game. He can control the action at the line of scrimmage. He is an entertainer. And even though he does not like his current contract, and unlike Kam Chancellor, he does not hold out for more money. Not yet anyway.

Bennett

This is a man who says things like, “It was the best run I’ve ever seen. I felt like he was running for freedom or something. Boy, he was gone. They haven’t had a run like that since the Underground Railroad.” This was in reference to a run Marshawn Lynch had last season against the Arizona Cardinals. This is funny stuff.

Here is another: “It’s just like being in the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory right now. All I see is cameras, lights and chocolates. I see some chocolate ladies.” This was his answer to the question, “What is Super Bowl week like?”

But the last few days he has been talking about how the NFL likes some players over others, and how quarterbacks seem to get preferential treatment when it comes to making money. Is he wrong? No. Does he have a point? Yes. Will things change? Not likely. Obviously, the NFL is a professional football league so that the players on teams choose to play the game so that they make money. There are many players who will play for ten years who will never be the same physically as if they had never played. This is part of the sport, and most fans, if they think about it at all, don’t think about it much. Not really. Players have only a short time to make a lot of money, possibly enough money to get them through their rest of their lives. Offensive and defensive linemen might get the worst of this. Nearly every play they are in danger of being hit the wrong way and receiving an injury that might end their careers. The problem is that the NFL sees these players as not individuals, but units. Quarterbacks, on the other hand, are individuals that impact a game, for better or worse.

This is what Bennett said about quarterbacks getting paid more money on the Brock and Salk Show on 710 ESPN Seattle: “Quarterback is the only position in the NFL where you could be mediocre and get paid. At every other position, you can’t be mediocre. If I was Ryan Tannehill (of the Miami Dolphins) and the most games I ever won was seven, how could you get a $100 million for that? I guess that’s the value of the position.”

And this is what Bennett said about quarterbacks getting preferential treatment after Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford complained about a low, yet legal, hit in the Eagles most recent preseason game: “(The) quarterbacks get protected more than any other player. I mean, (Bradford) gets hit in his knees and he’s about to cry. ‘They hit me in my legs.’ Everybody gets hit in their legs. Every play somebody tries to hit me in my legs. So what makes him different? What makes his life better than mine? I’ve got kids. I’ve got stuff I like to do on the weekend. But because he gets hit in his legs, he gets a flag. He gets up with a sad face like the world just ended because he got hit. I mean, you got hit in an NFL game. Who cares? Get back up and be like, ‘Good job.’”

chancellor

Again, Bennett makes a good point. Why is his health less important than anyone else’s? On average, quarterbacks make more money than other positions and they most likely will continue to do so. But when the culture of the league is such that one man’s health is more important than another’s then it might be easy to see where the league eventually will lose the respect of some fans. If enough of those fans decide to stop turning out for games or buying merchandise, then the league might decide it needs to address the culture. The NFL, as we all know, only responds to money issues. It is really the most professional of professional sports leagues, if one uses professional in its strictest terms. The NFL wants to get paid, and it wants you, football fan, to do the paying, whether that is player salaries or stadiums for teams. The NFL does not care about your specific respect of it.

As a fan, though, I am a hypocrite. I respect Bennett’s views and appreciate the fact that even though he does not like his contract he is not holding out of training camp. Chancellor, however, I find myself being peeved at. The Seahawks are a better team with Chancellor on the field. He has suffered a few serious injuries in his career, though, and played in last year’s Super Bowl with a torn MCL. Now he is holding out for…what? We do not really know. More money, I assume. More guaranteed money, possibly. Either way, he is not playing. And I want to be a fan of a Super Bowl winning team! How can we win if Kam does not play?

And so I therefore assume the posture the NFL wants me to: I will purchase more Seahawks products and get tickets to games, even though really Kam Chancellor, human being, just might be holding out for the few more dollars he wants because he knows that in a year or two he could be too injured to play football, or play with his children, or grow old. If only Kam were a quarterback…He might then be able to afford to live the rest of his (hopefully) long life with his health intact.