If you happen to run into anybody on the Chicago Bears beat these days, you'll probably notice something creeping out of the corner of their mouth, scrawling across their face and loitering for awhile. That, my friends, is called a smile, and those smiles are directly attributable to the most colorful roster we've seen wandering Halas Hall since the 80s.
The organization just oozes with personality, and, quite frankly, most of them have never had the privilege of having a job this easy. Not from a franchise that has been so notoriously tight-lipped and hard to source or even glean anything of true substance.
At the administrative level, that still hasn't really changed. Ted Phillips and George McCaskey stay out of the limelight more so than ever, and the inner workings of the machine are still largely off limits.
But, in scraping together a roster finally designed to test the merits of their new head coach and their temperamental quarterback, second-year general manager Phil Emery has essentially broken the mold of what had turned into a colorless organization.
Emery himself is quirky and long-winded in a peculiar yet lovable way, and new head coach Marc Trestman may be an alien from another planet speaking a new football language that we're only now beginning to decipher. Jay Cutler, the off-color QB, has been as engaging as ever, and he's got a pair of weapons that are an absolute delight.
Brandon Marshall has a well-documented history, but with the exception of taking some mental health time this preseason, he's been behaved and gregarious during his time in Chicago — not to mention productive. Then, of course, there's Martellus Bennett, who is by far my favorite of the bunch.
Bennett, who goes by the Twitter handle @MartysaurusRex, was a free agency signing who came over from the New York Giants after a four-year stint as Jason Witten's backup in Dallas. In just two weeks, he's proven to be a valuable commodity in Marc Trestman's offense, catching 10 passes for three touchdowns including the game-winner last week against the Minnesota Vikings.
It's the first legitimate threat that Jay Cutler has had at tight end since spending his inaugural season in Chicago with Greg Olsen, and it's become clear that Bennett gives the Bears a security blanket across the middle, while also giving them an above-average run-blocking tight end that can stretch the seam. But, as nice as it is to have another talented offensive weapon to fill column inches, it's even better to have one as outrageous as Martellus Bennett.
Last season, when he was still with the Giants, Bennett caught a fan as they were falling out of the stands around the tunnel and likened himself to Cyclops from the X-Men, referencing how Cyclops caught Jean Grey a couple of times. And, while I'm pretty sure that Marc Trestman is an alien, I'm absolutely positive Martellus Bennett is.
However, we're not particularly prejudiced against extraterrestrials in the media, and we absolutely love Martellus Bennett.
During an exchange in camp, Bennett went over in the middle of a practice and kissed a woman on the sidelines. The woman turned out to be his wife, but most of the credentialed media that day were taken by surprise, and the fanbase was certainly entertained.
Then, this week Bennett came out and compared Trestman to Willy Wonka during a segment on ESPN 1000.
"I think me and Coach Trestman are probably the only two people who understand each other," Bennett said. "I always say Coach Trestman reminds me of the first Willy Wonka. Not the Johnny Depp one. The Johnny Depp one was really cool, but the first one before that, the 1943 version."
Of course, Willy Wonka was made in 1971, but the fact that 1943 was the first thing to pop into his head makes it even better. And the comparison drew an amused reaction from Marc Trestman who simply described Martellus Bennett as being from a "different place." (He would know.)
Needless to say, it's been an interesting time to be a Chicago Bears beat writer, and all that personality is just on the offensive side of the ball. There are still guys like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs — veterans who have always been sincere and relatable on defense.
And if this team keeps winning, the job only gets easier for guys like Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune and Michael Wright of ESPN Chicago. In all fairness, if they've been on the Bears beat long enough to survive the Lovie Smith, Jerry Angelo, Ted Phillips era ... they've earned it.
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Filed under: Interest