Will the Packers Tolerate Outspoken Newcomers?
Joining the Green Bay Packers this season are tight end Martellus Bennett and defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois – two players who are known for freely expressing their opinions and making controversial comments. Will they run afoul of the culture that is in place at Green Bay?
Ricky Jean Francois
First, a preliminary matter. I mistakenly referred to the team’s newest addition by the last name of “Francois,” assuming Jean was his middle name. But his last name is actually “Jean Francois.” You’ll also see it often listed as Jean-Francois. It’s pronounced as “JON-fran-SWAH.”
We previously provided a link to Jean Francois’ 10-minute segment on a radio show. He made about a dozen criticisms of the Redskins, any of which would probably have gotten him fired by Green Bay’s management. It was so over the top that I’m confident he did so intentionally – Washington had just lost so many top-notch players and coaches that he wanted to find himself a different team. The Packers granted him his wish.
This calls to mind the statements made by Josh Sitton in the locker room after the team’s 2015 overtime playoff loss to Arizona. Sitton quite mildly questioned the general way in which the offense was being run, and if I recall, he felt the running game was abandoned too early in the contest. Given that these were not only postgame but postseason thoughts, that they were made at an emotional moment, and that Sitton was talking about strategy, not singling out any individual, I felt they were minimally inappropriate at the worst.
The Packers, and almost certainly Mike McCarthy, thought otherwise. That’s the only rational explanation for Sitton being released just a week before the 2016 season opened – the team didn’t even try to get any compensation for him.
As reported here on Total Packers, within days of signing on with Green Bay, the team’s new tight end was drawing attention on social media. On March 21, one of the NFL’s executive vice presidents announced the league was working up a training video to tell players what were and were not appropriate player celebrations after a big play. Bennett tweeted right back: “Spend that money on something like a video on investments…”
A day later, when a local reporter asked Bennett about his skill sets, he replied “I can do a lot of shit.”
While with the Cowboys at the start of his career, he was known for making controversial quotes and YouTube videos. After just a year in the league he and his Seahawks’ brother Michael Bennett did a video they called “Black Olympics,” featuring the two competing in fried chicken eating, watermelon eating, and Kool-Aid drinking contests.
In his three-year stint with the Bears, Bennett’s relationship with his teammates, coaches, and general manager deteriorated over time. He openly criticized quarterback Jay Cutler’s on-field play, and accused Cutler of not throwing to him when he was open. In an interview after he left Chicago, he called his ex-teammates “a bunch of bitches.”
In his sole year in New England, there seem to have been no issues – and he left with a Super Bowl ring.
Monty predicts that both the media and the fans are going to love this guy. They’ll certainly keep things from getting dull. I can’t even recall the last Packers player who was so willing to speak his mind.
These two rowdy newcomers are not exactly what we’ve come to expect of Green Bay players. I just hope that teammates warn both Martellus and Ricky that the bosses in Green Bay have really thin skins when it comes to being criticized or questioned.