As recently as Wednesday, Martellus Bennett was a member of the Green Bay Packers. Now, Bennett -- a member of the Patriots (again) after getting cut by the Packers -- is ripping the Packers for mishandling his shoulder injury, pressuring him to play through the injury instead of getting surgery, and trying to "f---" him over by releasing him with a failure to disclose a medical condition designation.
Packers players have since responded to their former teammate's allegations. They've chosen to defend the team doctor who Bennett specifically named for "trying to cover his own a--," not making him feel safe, and pushing him to play. Among Dr. McKenzie's defenders? Aaron Rodgers, who is currently on injured reserve with a broken collarbone.
Here's what Rodgers posted on Instagram:
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
His remarks echoed Jordy Nelson's comments. Nelson, of course, tore his ACL before the 2015 season before returning in 2016 and winning Comeback Player of the Year with a 1,257-yard, 14-touchdown season.
Former Packers fullback John Kuhn weighed in too:
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
So did former 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
Former Packers receiver James Jones took it even further, saying Dr. McKenzie wouldn't let them play through a broken fingernail.
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
LeRoy Butler, a Packers safety from 1990-2001, chimed in with a personal anecdote:
@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
@AaronNagler although each player is different, I️ am just sharing my experience,it’s BEARS WEEK AND THE GUYS NEED TO FOCUS ON WINNING!!!— leroy butler (@leap36) November 10, 2017
If you missed Bennett's initial comments, here's what he wrote on Instagram on Friday (as transcribed by ESPN's Rob Demovsky):
The packers examined my shoulder on my visit March 10 and cleared it. They even gave me an X-ray as well. It got worse during the season, specifically against the Cowboys so I asked to have it checked out and we checked it. After a few days of contemplating to play with it or get surgery, I chose surgery. Now here we are ...
They tried to f--- me over. Dr. McKenzie trying to cover his own a--. After trying to persuade me to play thru a major injury and choosing to get surgery. They have access to all my medical records. My shoulder wasn't where it is now at the beginning of the season. I f----- it up playing for the Packers. Dr. McKenzie didn't make [me] feel safe and was pushing to play, which I thought was weird. Not that he was trying to get me to play thru it but the way he was saying things. I didn't trust him. So I got three other opinions from doctors who all said I need to get it fixed. So I decided to do that. And they decided to waive me the some bull---- excuse. Failure [to] disclose. Every week we do a body evaluation sheet in the weight room and pretty much every week I circled my shoulder. I just kept playing but it got worse.
They panicked. Thinking that I was trying to go on IR and be on their books next year. When I mentioned that I would possible retire. So they tried to f--- me before they thought I would f--- them. This was all about money.
Bennett, who was claimed by the Patriots on Thursday, is officially listed as questionable for Sunday, which probably means Bennett did not opt to have the surgery he said he wanted to have above. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Bennett is dealing with a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum.
Bennett signed with the Packers in March after stops with the Cowboys, Giants, Bears and Patriots. Since becoming a No. 1 TE in 2012, he's hauled in 342 passes for 3,674 yards and 26 touchdowns. But 2017 is shaping out to be one of the worst seasons of Bennett's career. Through seven games (all with the Packers), he's caught 24 passes for 233 yards and no touchdowns.
Bennett previously said that he'll likely retire after the 2017 season.