When my younger brother initially told me he would retire, we were hanging out in Los Angeles during the offseason. Martellus said he was ready to move on from the NFL. I tried to talk him out of it.
Martellus is only 31 years old. He's still good enough to play a few more seasons and cash a few more checks.
It took me a good two days before I realized that I was approaching him as a football player and not a loving brother.
Wait—he says he's tired. He's ready to try something else.
From that moment, my perspective changed. If his mind was telling him he should end this chapter of his life, who am I to tell him otherwise?
It's what I've always admired about my brother. He remains true to himself and his deepest desires, no matter the circumstances.
When people described him as an immature player not focused on football when he played for the Dallas Cowboys, Martellus rose above the noise to become a Pro Bowl tight end and eventual Super Bowl champion. As more tight ends are almost exclusively pass-catchers, he was willing to block and do the things nobody else wanted to do.
While other athletes took vacations after a long season to unwind, I watched Martellus pour his money into creating The Imagination Agency to visually spark the next generation of creative minds. He attacked it with the same discipline, hard work and dedication as he did his football career.
Imagine having to go through the physical and mental demands of a professional football player, then running an entire business on top of that—being hands-on with every visual, every idea, every decision.
A lot of times, Martellus doesn't sleep. He has books he's writing, or he's pouring all this time into these different ideas. It's like watching him have another baby, an intellectual baby, that he put his all into. He's one of those rare human beings who is able to be a superhero, a super father and a super creator.
It's humbling to watch from the sideline how Martellus hasn't allowed his profession to place him in a box, fighting through the gravitational pull of what society expects an athlete to be. He used his platform to branch off and become an entrepreneur, an author, a rapper, a film director and a cartoonist.
When Martellus showed me the retirement statement he would release a few days later, I busted out laughing. It was so him. It carried the intellectual yet humorous tone you'd expect from Richard Pryor or Dick Gregory.
It was how he wanted to end this chapter. Athletes never leave this much money on the table, but it goes to show how brave Martellus is. How much he believes in himself.
He's always been seeking to bring his next creative thought to life. Now he gets to pursue that full-time.
Michael Bennett is a defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles, a three-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl XLVIII champion and brother of Martellus Bennett.
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