New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett made headlines for calling out the Green Bay Packers for how they handled his shoulder injury. Bennett claimed that the Packers were trying to “persuade” him to play through the injury, while he wanted to have season-ending surgery. The tight end argued that the Packers decided to release him for financial reasons and the “failure to disclose an injury” reasoning was just to provide the Packers troubles.
Now only the Packers front office can speak to whether or not they actually waived Bennett with a “failure to disclose an injury” to get him off the books- the compensatory fifth round pick the Packers will now pick up in the 2018 draft certainly doesn’t hurt- but a lot of Packers players, current and former, took offense to Bennett’s allegations that team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie would do anything against the player’s interest.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
I've been working with Dr. McKenzie for 13 years, and as well as being a phenomenal doctor, he's also become a close friend. He's done surgery on me twice, and I trust him and his opinion implicitly. Doc has always tried to protect me and my future, even if it meant protecting me from myself and my desire to get back on the field before I should. #gbpfamily #mydoc #ibackpat
Rodgers used the hashtag “I back Pat” to show that he supports the doctor over Bennett, adding that “Doc has always tried to protect me and my future.”
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson
“In 10 years of being with the Packers organization and having multiple injuries and surgeries, I have never once felt pressured to play in a game. If anything, I have had to try and convince Dr. McKenzie and the athletic trainers to allow me to practice or play in a game. Dr. McKenzie is very cautious about putting players back on the field with an injury and always puts the player’s health before the team.”
Packers fans would probably liken Nelson’s statement to if Dont’a Hightower or Nate Solder issued a statement. It wouldn’t happen unless they really, truly meant it.
Wide receiver Jeff Janis in response to Nelson
Wide receiver James Jones in response to Nelson
100% true Dr. McKenzie will not let you play with a broken fingernail if you don’t convince him that you’re OK I can never see him forcing somebody to play with an injury ♂️— James Jones (@89JonesNTAF) November 11, 2017
Fullback John Kuhn
In 9 years of working with Doc McKenzie he never pressured me to play one time. In fact, I️ would argue that I️ pressured him to let me play at times.— John Kuhn (@kuhnj30) November 10, 2017
Tight end Tom Crabtree
I have a hard time believing they tried rushing him back with that injury.— Tom Crabtree (@itsCrab) November 10, 2017
In 2012 they were paying me far less than him, I was similarly ineffective on the field and they sat me in preseason game 4 with just a sprained shoulder.
Tight end Jermichael Finley
I felt like the Packers and Dr. McKenzie were always very cautious with us and cared for the players well-being. Never felt pressured to play through a serious injury.— Jermichael Finley (@JermichaelF88) November 10, 2017
Safety Leroy Butler
@AaronNagler I️ was born with the narrow of my spinal cord, I️ played hundreds of plays,and Dr McKenzie flew me out to see a specialist...— leroy butler (@leap36) November 10, 2017
@AaronNagler he was very conservative,because he cared about me as a person,I️ am offended that someone would say he made them play injured— leroy butler (@leap36) November 10, 2017
So that’s the Packers’ side of the story from the players. They simply don’t believe that the doctor would put Bennett’s health at risk.
Bennett is now willing to play through his injury with the Patriots when he wasn’t with the Packers, an indication of how he’s more willing to put his body and health on the line for a contender than for a team that lost its starting quarterback, so it’s no surprise that the Packers players are not happy with Bennett, either.
Bennett is listed as questionable for the Patriots and could play on Sunday night against the Denver Broncos.