Martellus Bennett left a fine and often hilarious legacy on the NFL (outside Green Bay, anyway), but it shouldn't surprise anyone that the former standout tight end harbors a very real-world perspective about his decade-long career.
"I never felt at home at any of the places that I played, honestly," Bennett said on the Dave Dameshek Football Program Podcast. "I looked at myself as a consultant. So my job was to go into wherever this place was that needed a tight end and I would consult at the tight end position until they found another tight end better than me or my consultation was over, then I had to go consult somewhere else.
"So I look at every single player as an independent entrepreneurial company. I don't think every player views themselves as that, a lot of players view themselves as working as part of a larger corporation and being owned at that corporation and having a job there. I feel like the tight end position is my skill, it is my job and when you need someone to fill that position you hire me. But it's only on a contract base, it's not full-time employment."
As much as we'd like to associate players with certain teams and merge their ambitions and identities with that franchise or fan base, football, like all major sports, is a business. Bennett, it appears, was acutely aware of that throughout his career.
Ultimately, teams are in the business of building the best rosters, and players are replaced when they're no longer the best available. Bennett, like nearly all players, saw this at the end of his career after a lucrative market for his services more or less dried up a year after he posted remarkable numbers with the Patriots in 2016.
Bennett's perspective almost certainly isn't unique among players, but the rest of us should keep it in mind next time our favorite player is traded or signs with another team. There are plenty of NFL teams and fans who would have loved to have a piece of Bennett's "consultant" work -- 433 receptions, 4,573 yards, 30 TDs and a Super Bowl title -- even if he didn't feel at home.