Bennett brothers brace for Sunday battle
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)
Whenever Michael Bennett got into a fight growing up in Texas, his little brother, Martellus, always seemed to be around to help out.
That's the way the Bennetts are. They are always pulling for each other, ready to lend a hand.
This Sunday it's a different story. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) come to New Jersey to face the New York Giants (0-1) at MetLife Stadium, the Bennett brothers will be staring at each other on a lot of plays.
Michael is the starting left defensive end for Tampa Bay, and Martellus, a Giants tight end, has to block him.
''We never fought growing up,'' Martellus said. ''If you fought him, you had to fight me. We were those types of kids, so everybody in the neighborhood knew that if you messed with Michael, Martellus is going to come from out of nowhere. Sometimes I wouldn't even be around and I'd just appear and I'd just jump in the fight. It's going to be pretty cool (Sunday).''
The Bennetts are close. The brothers either talk or send text messages every day, and many times, they do it more than once.
''We don't talk trash, we just talk about life basically,'' Michael said. ''Not too much about football every day.''
This won't be the first time the brothers have played in the same NFL game. When Martellus was with the Cowboys last season, Dallas played in Tampa, and returned to Texas with a 31-15 win.
Martellus, who signed with the Giants as a free agent in the offseason, wasn't a starter last season. When he was in that game, though, he made Dallas Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten take on his brother.
''We're not the type of brothers where it's like, `Hey, I'm kicking your (butt) all day,''' said Martellus, who at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds is two inches taller than his brother and nine pounds lighter. ''We're more like, `Hey brother, good job.' We push each other more so than trying to have the bragging rights in the family.''
The funniest thing about the game that Martellus remembers was standing on the sidelines and watching Michael sack Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. His reaction was immediate.
''Good sack,'' Martellus remembered screaming. The joy lasted about a second as his Cowboys teammates gave him one of those `shut-up' looks.
Despite being older, Michael came into the NFL a year after his brother, who left Texas A&M early.
''It's a special feeling just to know you grew up with your brother and just to see him in the league, too,'' Michael said. ''It's a good feeling. Not many people get that feeling to have their family with the same occupation.''
The brothers have a little bet on the game, although they don't seem to agree on the wager. Martellus said if the Giants win, his brother has to buy him something nice. Michael says if the Buccaneers win, Martellus has to take him and his family on a vacation. He wants to go to Europe.
Either way, the families plan to get together this weekend.
''There are a lot of things that we both want to accomplish in life and I think this is one of our first dreams that we both had that's coming true,'' Martellus said. ''He's starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I'm here starting for the New York Football Giants, so it doesn't get much better than that for the Bennett family.''
''It's weird because it's such a violent sport and I'm seeing my brother and we're so close,'' he said. ''His wife is telling my wife something. It's going to be something funny at Thanksgiving, I bet.''
One person who can offer the Bennetts, and particularly Michael, some advice is Bucs safety Ronde Barber. He used to play against his brother, Tiki, when Tampa Bay played the Giants.
''There's really nothing to say for those three hours or three and a half hours or whatever it is,'' Ronde Barber said. ''He's an opponent and you've got to treat him as such. Obviously the person that's probably most conflicted are his parents sitting in the stands. . That was always tough on my mom, so I imagine he's going through a little bit of that himself right now.''
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AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall in Tampa, Fla. contributed to this report.