Talk to Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett for, oh, five minutes or so and it's like you've gone through the looking glass.
How best to put it? He's a different cat. But a fun one, and entertaining to be sure. Some even have speculated that his personality didn't, er, mesh with Wade Phillips in Dallas and Tom Coughlin in New York, which were the reasons for his departures. Go figure.
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But that doesn't appear to be an issue with his new coach. People around the Bears might be still trying to crack the code to the erudite Marc Trestman, but Bennett seems well on his way. And vice versa. Bennett expressed those views on ESPN 1000, via the Chicago Tribune:
“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.”
First, let's clean something up. Roald Dahl wrote the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" — yes, kids, there first was a book — back in 1964. Then the movie (which Dahl mostly hated, by the way) came out in 1971, starring Gene Wilder. If you've been home on a Sunday morning, you no doubt have flipped through the channels and watched it. The Depp version came out in 2005, and maybe you flipped something else its way.
No matter. The reference from Bennett is funny but hardly shocking. Bennett seems to go out of his way to characterize himself as a fun-loving weirdo, which is a long way from the mental torture he took from demanding tight ends coach John Garrett when the two became a central storyline in that season of "Hard Knocks." Since then, Bennett has seemingly come out of his shell, from aloof to goof.
Among Bennett's quirks ... He loves watching "Kung Fu Panda" episodes over and over. He believes dinosaurs still exist. His nickname — self-applied, of course — is The Black Unicorn. And he has written and performed a song about Cap'N Crunch, which, sadly, is no longer available on the Internet. (Copyright issue?)
But Bennett has sung his own ode to Trestman. And he has an additional nickname for the coach that's the best we've heard to date: Rainman. But Wonka is still the driving thought in Bennett's head.
“If you really look at Coach, he’s a genius,” Bennett said. “And a lot of times when you’re around really, really smart people, you don’t really understand them. I thought Willy Wonka was brilliant. I mean he had all kinds of candy. Who doesn’t like chocolate and candies? Everybody wanted a Gobstopper. Ya know? I just think he’s brilliant.”
Some of this might be for show or shock. Bennett clearly is comfy in front of microphones and cameras, and he has gone out of his way to be visible since signing in Chicago. But the bigger point is that at least one prominent Bears player is quite comfortable with his new coach, whose acceptance in the wake of the firing of players' coach Lovie Smith was quite the question mark heading into the season. Bennett also has been a hit on the field, with three TD receptions the first two games, including the game-winner on Sunday.
We loved the illustration at the top, courtesy of our friends at CBS' Eye on Football, too, so this got us thinking ... if Trestman is Wonka, then who are the Oompa Loompas? That one might be too dangerous to touch. But there's one connection we just had to make ...
Your move, Veruca Cutler.