At 6’7″, 248 pounds, Martellus Bennett is a physical specimen. He is the prototypical athletic tight end today’s NFL game features. Athletic, quick. agile, strong… Bennett appeared to be a solid choice when the Cowboys took him near the end of the second round in the 2008 NFL draft with the 61st overall pick.
His first year in the league, while playing behind Jason Witten, Bennett put up solid numbers. He caught 20 passes for 283 yards and, most impressively, scored four touchdowns. That, for the mathematically challenged, equates to a touchdown every fifth pass caught. Not bad. Very promising.
The trouble is that, after four complete seasons, those remain the best numbers Bennett has put up. Since his rookie season, he has failed to catch a single touchdown pass. In four seasons, he has caught 85 passes for 846 yards.
Those would be good numbers for a season, but are barely pedestrian as a four-year veteran’s career numbers.
Bennett came to the Dallas Cowboys as a highly-touted tight end. According to his Wikipedia page, “In his three seasons at Texas A&M University, Bennett caught 105 passes for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 105 receptions equal the school record of most receptions by a tight end.”
So, what has gone wrong? Why has Bennett been mostly a nonfactor on a Dallas Cowboys team that seemingly could really use his talents?
The answer may be found in a single word: Focus.
While the truly great athletes work at their craft with a single-mindedness that borders on Obsessive Compulsion Disorder, Marty B (as he calls himself on his YouTube channel) has been about other things from day one.
With an affable personality and a certain magnetism that flourished in front of a camera, Marty B has been a social media darling. His Twitter handle was Jupiter’s Crunch when he first burst onto the professional football scene. Now he goes by the more sensible handle of MartellusB.
Most telling on Bennett’s Twitter account is the way he describes himself: “Patio Junkie, Rooftop Hippie, Professional Brainstormer, Super Ninja, Genius, married to a Gypsy… Creative Director for Rockit Dope Clothing.”
Nothing in there about being a Dallas Cowboys or even a football player.
While his compatriots try to figure out how to lift themselves out of the mire of mediocrity and compete for a championship, Marty B concerns himself with launching his Rockit Dope™ clothing line, entertaining the masses via social media and making music.
I do not mean to indicate that no successful athletes have such outside interests. Without doubt, they do, almost without exception. The key here is that they were first successful at their craft. They built a name for on-field accomplishment before they built a brand.
Martellus Bennett has gotten his hip-hop cart before his football horse. While super-cool Marty B builds his brand, he is in danger of being branded an NFL bust.