Michael Bennett stepped up to the mic on Monday. The Pro Bowl Defensive End/Tackle had reportedly fought with 40% of the starting o-line recently so I was eager to hear him. As the video began, I felt like the kid on the tricycle, staring at Mr. Incredible, waiting for, “I don’t know. Something amazing, I guess.” Disappointingly, he didn’t pick up a car (this time). But the twelve minutes he spoke were just as entertaining. He packed this press conference with thoughts on Team, Family, Respect, Millennials, Social Media, Pete Carroll’s Philosophy and Peace.
Has this camp been more intense than other ones?
I don’t think so. I think it’s just been a regular camp. Guys just trying to compete at a high level. Everybody wants to play, such a young team. Guys trying to make a name in the NFL. It’s one of those camps where there’s more young guys than usual. So it’s like everybody’s playing really hard and everybody’s trying to be a good pro.
How would you describe your skirmishes?
I don’t know, you do the greatest job of describing them. I think there’s definitely a fine line in the NFL. Where a guy beats a guy, or he beats that guy. But when it goes beyond after the play, dirty kind of plays at practice, I think that’s where it crosses the line. For me, I don’t really treat the game like a game. I treat it like a job and it’s for feeding my family. If I feel like a guy is doing something to injure, I feel like he’s taking food out of my daughter’s mouth or my wife’s. So I take that to heart. That drives me insane. Especially if we on the same team. It’s different if it’s another team. But if we on the same team, I feel like we should respect each other where we’re not trying to hurt each other. I think everybody’s a valuable part of the team, and everybody should be treated valuably on the team at the end of the day.
Sounds like you and Bradley (Sowell) patched things up after practice yesterday?
For me, I respect him. I’d never do anything like that to him. I approached him and let him know my mindset to how I play the game, how I approach the game. He understands why he shouldn’t do that kind of stuff on me. Because I’m taking the game to a whole other level. I’m just trying to be the best pro possible everyday when I step on the field.
Do think that message is working, getting across to teammates or coaches? The fact you think people shouldn’t be taking risks with teammates.
There’s a new group of guys, it’s a whole new offensive line. Before it was guys we played with for a long time. Three, four years, you hang with these guys, you know them. So it’s a bunch of new guys and there’s certain code in the NFL. There is a lot of problems in the NFL when it comes to injuries and concussions and stuff like that. But I feel like, a lot of the time, it’s the players that can really control what happens to each other. I think there is a code where we find that line of where it is, where it becomes about the other person’s safety than it is about the game. That’s where it’s about the person’s family. I think that’s the fine line in the NFL where you have to draw the line. Where we aren’t trying to injure each other but we are trying to win the game. So at the end of the day, you always have to find that line.
How much of what happened yesterday was you sticking up for a younger teammate?
Yeah, obviously, I want to stick up for the younger guys. I’m the leader on the defensive line. But at the end of the day, I think it came down to disrespecting. I’m from Texas. It’s a lot different than a lot of places over here. So it’s just different, huh?
So you don’t feel like you’re any different in this camp, necessarily? It’s sorta the situation with the team?
I feel like I’m different. My level of play is the highest level it’s ever been. So that’s the difference.
Pete said he thought that everybody has a lot riding on this season specifically. Do you feel that way and how’s it any different from previous years?
I think it’s a lot of older guys. We all want to get back where we’re supposed to be. When you come from a winning organization and you win a lot of games, then all of a sudden you not in that ultimate moment, the ultimate moment happens to be the Super Bowl, you feel a certain way. And I think that everybody just wants to get back to where they supposed to be. It hurts to watch other people play in the Big Game. And for us, we’re a championship team. At the end of the day, every game is a championship game for us.
You mentioned before, the fact that this one’s (Super Bowl) in Houston is a motivating factor for you. How important is that to you?
I’m mean it’s very important. It’s just , I get to play in front of my family. And that’s something I train even harder because of that fact. I just love the game and the fact I could play in front of my family is something that really motivates me.
You’ve only played a couple snaps so far? Do you want to play more? Do you not want to play more?
I don’t know, I just do what the organization wants me to do. There’s times, you know, certain guys play a lot in preseason, certain guys don’t. It’s not really important when you get to a certain level of the game. I think it’s more for the young guys to see the continuity of the offensive line, seeing what we can do. But ultimately, you got some guys that can play and you got some young guys who’s trying to figure out what they can do. That’s what we’re really trying to do.
Those young guys on the defensive line. What have you seen from those young guys?
I think there’s a lot of guys with talent. I think where they have to realize is that this is a job. And I think they’re starting to realize that this is not like college anymore. Everybody’s not going to be kept around. At the end of the day, it’s gonna be, who wants it a little bit more? I think that’s the kind of mindset you have to keep. The new Millennials of this generation. Because, everything’s different now with the Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook and all this stuff. Lots of times with the young players, they skip the process, they just want to be great. But they forget about the steps that it takes to be great. So we got to keep intentionally honing those skills and we see a lot of that. At the beginning the guys where they didn’t understand that, but now they’re starting to understand that. From (Jarran) Reed to (Quinton) Jefferson. Especially, it’s their livelihood. So we just really want them to understand that.
Do you think of Pete’s message, or the method in which he’s getting his message across to you guys is different this year at al, then say, three or four years ago?
No, it’s crazy, ‘cause I talked to my wife. And we were watching Hard Knocks and when Jeff Fisher came in at halftime, I told my wife, Pete Carroll would totally be different in that moment. That moment right there, he would have came in a lot different. A lot more calm, a lot more motivating, but in a different type of way. That’s what makes Pete Carroll different from any other coach. He understands the moment. And there’s times where you could go too hard on a team, and they can change the whole momentum. But he knows exactly how to use his philosophies to the best of his abilities. And I think that’s what makes him such a great coach. I don’t think his message has changed at all. He’s always been saying, compete, compete, no complaining and do the best you can every day.
What’s the angriest you’ve seen him?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen him really angry. Honestly, I always tell him he’s like Benjamin Button. I see him happy all the time; Willy Wonka, he’s just having a good time.
There’s an idea that with coaches over time that if they have the same message they have to freshen it up. Guys get tired of hearing it, but…
No, I think there’s times where… his message is true. I think a lot of people can’t fault the message. A lot of teams, a lot of coaches, they have philosophies. But what does their philosophy really mean? Because they don’t win games. You guys telling you philosophies about how to win when he’s never won. When you have a coach who’s really won, he understands his philosophy, people buy in a lot faster. Because they understand that this guy knows what he’s talking about. There’s a lot of coaches that talk about championships. They talk about being in the moment. But they don’t even know what that moment feels like. They don’t know how to express it, how to talk about it. They can’t really home in on it. And I think Coach Carroll does a great job of doing that. I think he’s elevated the mindset of people to understand that there’s more in them and they can be greater.
Going back to those rookies on the line. Is there anything that you’d like to see from them in the next preseason games?
I just want to see more pass rush. And the run game, I think has been spectacular. ‘Cause this league is a passing league. A lot of teams we play are passing teams. So, we need to figure out how to get these guys even better at pass rushing. If that’s spending more time after practice working with them. Or us working with the offensive line a little bit more, I think that’s the steps we’re taking, that’s what we’re trying to do.
What is Quinton Jefferson like off the field?
He’s a pretty cool guy. He’s a got a lot in common with a lot of different players. Him and his kids. He’s pretty cool, laid back type of guy. I try to get that change up in his mindset because sometimes I think he’s too laid back in this league. But I think he’s starting to get it. I think he’s just a super cool dude, and obviously he had to grow up fast having three kids.
John (Schneider) talked about that. One of the things that was attractive about him was that he’s a married guy and had three kids. Did you sense that level of maturity compared to other rookies?
I think he has a sense of maturity. I think that maturity sometimes is bad because sometimes those responsibilities at young age tend to weigh on you and can be overwhelming at times. But I think he’s kinda understanding that this is his job. This is a part of having a family, part of sacrificing, part of being determined, make sure that they’re taken care of.
Frank Clark any different this year at all?
I think Frank is just doing what he’s always doing. Frank is like a wild dog in a meat house. And know we’re trying to get him to home in on his skills because he has so many skills. He’s so fast, so quick, so explosive. But you have to tune him up. And that’s what we’re doing right now; we’re tuning him up to be efficient. You know, have efficient movement. That’s the thing he’s working on. I think he’s done a great job of it.
What’s it been like getting Tony McDaniel?
Tony, I mean, you can’t really… Tony is Tony. And Tony’s a part of the reason why we went to two Super Bowls, part of the reason why we’re the number one rushing defense for a while… Tony starts right back in. Same guy, same player. Tony’s one of those guys that comes to work and works really hard. Powerful, strong, and is a determined player. His veteran wisdom is necessary and needed at this moment because we have so many young guys on defense line. When I first got here, the youngest guy was six years, you know what I mean? And so, now, in that group that was playing. We had Jordan (Hill) and Jesse (Williams) and the rest of us was all old. Six, ten, twelve, thirteen years in the League. And we work really well together. And I think, that’s where we’re trying to get there now.
What urgency do you feel, in your career?
I don’t feel much urgency, I’m getting younger by the day, you know what I’m saying? Every day I’ve decided to live a stress-free life. Peaceful. The peaceful you are, the less stressful you are, the younger you are. I think that’s where life is, where you need to be at to feel young and not feel old when you’re getting older. So I work really hard to be peaceful and have a great day every day. Not get stressed out. Why be stressed out? I’m young, I’m black, I’m rich in America. I can not complain.
That feels opposite of what we’re seeing on the practice field.
What you mean?
People hear about fighting…
That’s part of the game, that’s different. Here’s a whole other arena. This is the actual gladiator arena. So you can’t come out here and be too peaceful out here, you get hurt. But at the end of the day, I get home, I try to be as peaceful as I can. I take it off. I got three daughters, I play with them. Play with the dogs. So I’m happy.
What you were saying about Pete. When you first got here, what did it take for you to buy in or kinda appreciate the philosophy?
It didn’t take long at all. Because I knew, like I said, it was easy. Before, I had a bunch of guys spitting a lot about a whole bunch of garbage, about stuff that they said that they knew. How you win championships. And they never won. So when I got here, I understand that Pete knew how to win. And that was what it was about. And I knew what type of defense we had. Every player. It’s not very often that you have eleven guys with the same mindset. And on defense we have the same mindset. Every player on this defense is a great player. And that’s what makes us so good.