One of the things that make the NFC East the best NFL division to cover is the emotion of it all. Specifically, the hate. My job keeps me in regular contact with fans of each of the division's four teams, and part of what keeps this blog so lively is that, if you're a fan of one of the four teams, you hate the other three. I get it. I dig it. You're fans. You don't have to be rational when talking about your team or its rivals. It's one of the ways you blow off steam. It's all good.
What's rare is for a player to get in on the act. It happens every once in a while. Chris Cooley of the Washington Redskins said last year that he enjoyed watching Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo blow a game. Justin Tuck of the New York Giants has talked a few times over the past couple of years about hating the Cowboys. And on Thursday, upon arrival at training camp in Albany, N.Y., in a sweet-looking Bentley, Giants (and former Cowboys) tight end Martellus Bennett had this to say about his former team:
"I just want to kick those guys' asses," Bennett said shortly after arriving at camp, when he was asked about playing the Cowboys. "That is what it is all about. I mean we are cool but we ain't that cool, know what I am saying? I kind of got some ill feelings towards them overall. It is a game, I kind of hate everybody, honestly, in the NFL."
Later, Bennett clarified: "I have ill feelings toward everybody. It is not just Dallas. Pretty much anybody who doesn't play with us, I pretty much don't like 'em. I don't like a lot of people."
Well, at least he cleared that up. I mean, I don't know. Bennett is a big question mark -- a super-talented, still-young tight end of whom the Cowboys got tired because he couldn't reliably catch the ball. The Giants have picked him up on a one-year deal because he is young and still has potential, but it's a low-risk deal that will require Bennett to perform in order to win and keep the job. Even with the Giants short on tight ends, they're not going to have much patience for Bennett if he has the same kinds of problems he had in Dallas.
If he doesn't, they believe they'll have something special on their hands. And if that happens, Bennett's apparent hatred of the Cowboys and everyone else in the league will serve him well in the games. In the meantime, though, as we are left to wonder whether he'll make good on his big talk, we thank Bennett for embracing the hate that makes the division go 'round.