Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Bennett defends himself, Malcolm Jenkins at minicamp
Defensive end Michael Bennett arrived at Eagles minicamp Tuesday after skipping most of the voluntary workouts. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA — Michael Bennett on Tuesday participated in Philadelphia Eagles minicamp, stepping on the practice field in front of reporters for the first time with the team and answering questions about a wave of topics that stretched from off-field drama to on-field strategy.
True to form, the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end presented a strong front and didn’t back down from defending himself during a media session.
“It’s our jobs as human beings to be ourselves,” Bennett said.
Bennett didn’t discuss specifics of his active criminal case in Texas, where authorities this spring charged him with injuring an elderly woman at the 2017 Super Bowl. Rusty Hardin, Bennett’s lawyer, said his client didn’t do anything wrong.
As far as the accomplished pass rusher goes, he said he’d let his lawyer decide what details to make public. But Bennett did insinuate that the accusations against him — police say he pushed a woman in a wheelchair while trying to get onto NRG Field to greet his brother, Martellus Bennett – do not reflect his personality.
“I’m just a father and a husband who tries to do the right thing,” Bennett said. “The most important thing to me is to try to be a great human being.”
That was the message Bennett sent Tuesday while facing several tense questions.
He said he missed voluntary workouts during his first offseason with the Eagles so he could be with his family and focus on charitable work. He shrugged off a reporter asking whether he’d demonstrate for social justice during the national anthem, saying instead he was focused on how to make an impact in the community. And he downplayed the idea that he’d need to make a delicate entrance into the Super Bowl champions’ locker room after arriving from Seattle in a mid-March trade.
“I come in here and you want to be an all-star just like you’ve been,” Bennett said. “You want to be one of the top players in the league. And if you come in with that, 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, and that’s my job. That’s my mindset.”
Bennett didn’t only defend his own intentions. He also lauded his new teammate, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, for his work lobbying for criminal justice reform.
Jenkins has faced pushback from supporters of President Donald Trump in the wake of the Eagles’ canceled White House visit, and he took criticism from 49ers safety Eric Reid after ending his national anthem demonstrations last year when the NFL pledged to donate $89 million to social justice organizations. Bennett, another central figure in the growing presence of activism in football, spoke highly of Jenkins.
“Malcolm has put himself out their to be a great leader and a just a great person in general,” Bennett said. “He has so much integrity. Any time you take criticism for something you believe in, it’s always hard, but Malcolm is a great guy and he always does what he needs to do.”
Bennett has plenty of first-hand experience dealing with detractors. Tuesday, he showed no signs of wilting while answer to some of those critics and aimed to make his unofficial start with the Eagles a positive one.
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