Bears general manager Phil Emery gathered all of the media at practice Tuesday morning 20 minutes into practice.
That never happens.
“Last night, we made a decision to fine and suspend Martellus Bennett for an undetermined length of time,” Emery said. “This is a process that we’re working with Martellus on. We are in contact with him and our goal is to have Martellus back as soon as possible. He’s a very loved and respected teammate and we want him back, but it’s a process we have to work through.”
When asked what led to the suspension, Emery said, “He was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and there won’t be any further information available than that.”
Normally, responsible members of the media avoid speculation at all costs, but in this case the Bears have left us no choice but to participate in educated analysis, at the very least.
In the 37 years I’ve been covering the NFL, I cannot remember a player being fined and suspended for a training camp fight.
There has to be more here than meets the eye.
Bennett’s backup, Dante Rosario, seemed surprised.
“In my first 5 years I was in training camp with [Panthers] coach [John] Fox, and there was fights all the time and it was never like guys getting kicked off the practice field,” Rosario said. “I think that it’s just Trestman’s style – he wants everyone to feel like they can come out here and be safe, and he just didn’t deem that that was a safe environment for them to be fighting like that.”
But that’s getting kicked out of practice, which Bennett wasn’t. Fined and suspended, for a training camp fight? Never.
“We’ve got a plan and a process in place,” Trestman said. “And, as I told the team [Tuesday], we love him. He works hard. He loves football. He’s a good father and we want to get him back as soon as we can and we’ll go through this process and, when the time is right, he’ll be back.”
When pushed on a timeline, Trestman repeated that “It’s a process. That’s a great question. I can’t answer that, other than to say it’s going to be one day at a time.”
Punishing a young man for a fight is a simple and finite decision. It can only become an indefinite process if the lines of communication are broken.
Bennett was asked after the fight Monday what if the Bears fined him and his response was, “I can afford it. I don’t see what he can fine me for on that.”
Could it be any more obvious that management expressed its displeasure with Bennett and he failed to understand or accept the reprimand?
I have had the benefit and the pleasure of working with Bennett on a few radio shows and several other events away from the team. He is warm, engaging, extremely bright and a good guy. I like him, a lot.
But he does appear to have a short attention span at times, occasionally loses focus and ends up talking about a handful of subjects all at once and can go out of his way to make sure the spotlight is focused squarely on him.
More than once the “huge kid” they call Marty has been known to engage a full squadron of media with various antics he seems to improvise as the occasion dictates, while teammates and coaches walk by with curious glances or wry smiles that seem to say, “I guess that’s just Marty.”
I cannot pretend to know what’s going on in Bennett’s head right now, nor can I say what Trestman and Emery are thinking.
I do absolutely believe they need and want him back as soon as possible.
But it’s pretty obvious they want back a different version of the man than they’ve had so far.