Martellus Bennett is not afraid to take a public stance on a variety of topics, and the Patriots tight end was at it again immediately after his team won the Super Bowl, telling reporters that he would not accompany it for the traditional champions’ White House visit. On Tuesday, Bennett posted a lengthy string of tweets, in which he took issue with the notion that athletes such as himself should “stick to sports.”
“When you look at me what do you see? I know you wanna ask me what sport I play. I mean what else could I possibly be besides an athlete,” Bennett wrote on Twitter. “When you look at me, see the father, the awesome dad, the author, film director, business owner, champion, friend, Hufflepuff beast.”
The ninth-year pro, who also founded The Imagination Agency, a company that produces books and other content for children, emphasized that not only was he much more than an athlete, he had an obligation to be so, beginning with his status as an African American.
“I have two libraries in my house. Thousands of books,” he tweeted. “I love to read, because I know that for a long time [my] ancestors weren’t allowed to.
“I love to write. Because for a lonnnnnngg time my people weren’t ‘allowed’ to. So I’m going to write my books, my apps, and tell my stories.
“I’m going to speak my mind because guess what . . . that’s right for a looonngg time my ancestors didn’t have a voice.”
Bennett said that he wanted to help others, particularly young people who might see him as a role model, pursue their passions in realms far beyond athletics. “This is part of the reason why I’m working to build art centers and computer labs for kids to learn coding,” he tweeted. “I’m not building gyms.
“I’m not interested in building football fields or doing football camps. I’m interested in doing film camps and coding camps.
“You don’t have to be good at sports young man. Go upstairs and finish practicing that trombone.
“You don’t have to rap. You can score films.
“You don’t have to dunk. You can crossover and own the basketball team.”
In his first season with the Patriots, Bennett played an important role, particularly after star tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a season-ending back injury. The former Bear, Giant and Cowboy had five catches for 62 yards in New England’s 34-28 Super Bowl triumph, and he evoked a childlike sense of wonder afterward, saying, “It’s like waking up and eating cake for breakfast. It’s super cool.”
On Tuesday, Bennett was telling his Twitter followers, “They can’t tear down your mind,” encouraging them to not “get distracted” when “they try to distract your vision with glittery things.” His message was for people to not let themselves be constrained by preconceived notions of what they might be able to accomplish.
“They can’t steal your joy when it comes from above,” he wrote. “I’m over the low hanging fruit. I’m at the top of the tree tossing down the really good fruit.”
“I will not get inside the box society provides for everyone at birth,” Bennett tweeted. “And the box society sent for my daughter at birth we built a rocket ship out of it.”
Bennett ended that series of thoughts with the hashtag “#StayWokeBruh,” and he posted a link to an essay, “Dear Black Boy,” that he wrote last year for The Players’ Tribune. That came in response to police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, and he began it by saying that the “quest for freedom continues.”
“Exercise, Black Boy, Exercise!,” Bennett wrote in the essay. “Exercise your right to speak your mind, to pursue happiness, to seek peace and prosperity, to avoid conformity imposed by the small minds of society. Exercise until you’re drenched in sweat.
“Think, Black Boy, Think! For your mind is your greatest tool.”