After skipping a good portion of the Eagles’ voluntary offseason workout program, Michael Bennett arrived to Philadelphia on Monday in time for the team’s first minicamp practice on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old defensive end took reps with the second team defensive line during practice. Afterwards, Bennett addressed reporters for the first time in nearly three months. We last heard from Bennett on March 19, prior to the news of his arrest.
Here’s everything Bennett had to say.
HOW DO YOU FEELING ABOUT BEING HERE?
I’m just excited, man. So many great people, new teammates, getting used to the organization, getting used to the city. It’s just fun. When you come to a new team, championship mode, lot of great players, bonding time, so it’s always good to be here.
IS THERE A REASON YOU WAITED TO COME?
Nah, it’s just voluntary. It’s the only job in the world that people expect you to show up. But for me, the offseason is always about how to be a better parent and a better husband so every year I work with my kids, teaching at the school, coaching basketball, doing whatever I can to help out, so that’s the best thing about the offseason.
WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE WITH THE PLAYBOOK?
I’m pretty comfortable. Just getting used to the different terminology. Jim [Schwartz] is such a great defensive coordinator. Just learning it, and I’m pretty comfortable with it, so it should be a pretty good defense.
HOW IMPRESSED ARE YOU WITH THE ATMOSPHERE HERE? THE CULTURE?
I think the culture is just one of a kind. I think we have a lot of great coaches, obviously. But then the culture is all about family, all about team, and you see it throughout the organization, whether it’s the equipment guys, the training staff, everybody’s really about the team, that family. So it’s really cool.
THIS TIME IS REALLY BIG ON LETTING GUYS BE THEMSELVES. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU’VE NOTICED?
I think it’s kind of hard to be somebody else. I think it’s just our job as human beings to be ourselves. I think any time you can act accordingly to your character and be who you are, that makes your job a lot easier.
CAN YOU PUT INTO WORDS THE CULTURE YOU’VE SEEN HERE?
I don’t really have a word for it. I don’t know.
THE TEAM HAS SPOKEN A LOT ABOUT YOUR VERSATILITY. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THEY’RE GOING TO START YOU OFF SLOWLY BEFORE THEY MOVE YOU INSIDE?
No, I think whatever happens, they’re just moving [guys] around. One day you do this, one day you do that. It’s just about learning the defense and trying to fit in the best way you can. Like, you know what I’m saying? You play with a lot of great all-stars around you. Whether it’s Fletch[er Cox], BG [Brandon Graham], Chris [Long], Derek [Barnett], it’s a lot of great guys around me. So it’s going to be fun.
YOU’RE AN ESTABLISHED PLAYER. DO YOU TRY TO COME IN AND BE ONE OF THE GUYS OR DO YOU HAVE A CERTAIN LEADERSHIP ROLE?
I think I’ve come here, you want to be an all-star just like you’ve been, you want to be able to be one of the top players in the league, you come in with that. I think the organization is expecting that. They’re not expecting me to come in and just sit back. They’re expecting me to come in and dominate on the field. That’s my job. Obviously, everyday I take the field that’s my mindset.
A LOT OF PLAYERS ON THIS TEAM HAVE BEEN OUTSPOKEN ABOUT CAUSES. IS THIS A GOOD SPOT FOR YOU BECAUSE OF THAT?
I think it’s a great spot simply because of the team and what we do on the field. The opportunity to build in the community is always something that makes you want to be a better teammate, but an organization that allows you to do that makes it fun. It makes you part of the community. A lot of teams, you’re never really part of the city. Obviously, in Philly, you become a part of the city with everything you do.
YOU HAVEN’T HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND TO THE CHARGES IN HOUSTON. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY?
I just let my lawyer handle that and [I] do what I need to do on the field. For me, being here is just all about football. Be a great player, be a great teammate, be a great citizen.
THOSE ALLEGATIONS, THOUGH, THAT’S NOT YOU, RIGHT? THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU’RE LIKE?
Obviously not. I’m just a father and a husband who tries to do the right thing by me. The most important thing to me is just to try to be a great human being.
ARE YOU CONFIDENT THOSE CHARGES AREN’T GOING TO RESULT IN ANYTHING?
I don’t know. Like I said, I’m just here to play football.
WATCHING FROM AFAR, WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE WHOLE WHITE HOUSE VISIT?
I have no comment because I wasn’t here. Whatever the team decides to is their decision. Obviously, the decision they made was a team decision, and you’ve just got to follow suit and try to do what you can as a teammate.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT MALCOLM DID WITH THE CARDS, TRYING TO FOCUS THE MESSAGE ON WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE ON?
I think that’s important. I think he was showing what everything is really about. At the end of the day, it’s just about being a great citizen, a great human being. Everybody deserves dignity. Everybody deserves rights. And I think that’s what Malcolm wants to show with everything that he puts out. I think sometimes the narrative gets changed but obviously it’s about the people. It’s always been about the people. It’s about women’s issues, it’s about gender issues, it’s about race issues, it’s about all of those different issues that we can come together as citizens and find out how we can collaborate together and make a better world. For me, it’s always about how can you be a better ancestor. How can you leave this world a better place then when you got in it.
WHAT WAS YOUR FRIENDSHIP LIKE BEFORE ARRIVING IN PHILLY? WERE YOU TEXTING IN THE OFFSEASON AT ALL?
Oh yeah, texting everbody. Text Fletcher, BG, talking about football, having a good time. Getting used to the guys and just talking about life. I think the first thing you wanna do is get to know people personally before you start talking about football. That’s what the whole thing is for me to do. Know they’re families, know what they believe, know who they are and what they care about.
ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE GUYS THAT ENJOYS THAT INNER TEAM COMPETITION?
You mean like the best in the league or best within your own team?
BEST WITHIN YOUR OWN TEAM.
Nah, I think when you try to compete with your teammates too much, you miss the focus of it. I think you try to become a great group. Our goal is to be the best group possible, and that’s eight men coming in and being dominant every single week.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO HERE BEYOND JUST THE FOOTBALL FIELD?
I think you just want to be a great citizen. You come into a city, you want to feel the atmosphere of the city […] you want to eat the food, just immerse yourself in the culture. I think for me, it’s a new culture for me as far as coming from Seattle. It’s a whole nother vibe and I’m liking it. I think I’ll grow as an individual and grow as a person and grow with my family in a new situation.
DID YOU THINK IT WAS UNFAIR THE CRITICISM THAT MALCOLM TOOK AFTER THE DEAL THE PLAYERS’ COALITION TOOK WITH THE NFL?
I think, obviously Malcolm has put himself out there to be a great leader and just a great person in general. Malcolm has so much character and obviously he has integrity. Taking criticism for something you believe in is always hard. Malcolm’s a great guy and he always does what he needs to do.
WE HAVEN’T SPOKEN WITH YOU SINCE THE NEW ANTHEM POLICY WAS PUT INTO PLACE. IS THAT IMPACTING HOW YOU’RE GOING TO BE APPROACHING THIS SEASON?
I think for us it’s just about how much work can we do in the community. I think a lot of times it gets mixed with gestures or what gestures you’re doing, but it’s really about how can we build bridges from different communities and become a better organization. That’s our focus as a team. Then as people, how can we build a better organization and better people outside.