By Brady Henderson
“Soft” is a pretty significant insult coming from one NFL player to another, especially in a sport defined by toughness. “Overrated” isn’t very complimentary, either.
Those were two words Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett used to describe Saints tight end Jimmy Graham shortly after Seattle’s divisional-round playoff win over New Orleans on Saturday. When asked during an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle’s postgame show about how the Seahawks neutralized Graham for the second time this season, Bennett sounded off.
“Nobody likes Jimmy Graham. I think he’s one of the softest players in the NFL,” Bennett said. “I think he’s overrated and I really don’t like him as a person or as a player. … When he’s not in the game he’s not in the game. He doesn’t help on the blocking plays. I think he’s just overrated.”
Bennett said during a separate postgame interview that he was upset about a pregame incident involving Graham and Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin. The play-by-play, according to Irvin, went like this: He asked Graham to get off of Seattle’s side of the field during warmups. When Graham responded by saying, “I’m Jimmy,” Irvin hit the ball out of his hands and kicked it away. Graham then knocked a beanie off of Irvin’s head.
It was a comical exchange, and according to Bennett, a disrespectful move on Graham’s part.
There’s a history and plenty of familiarity between these two. They saw each other twice a year during Bennett’s four seasons with Tampa Bay, and when Seattle hosted New Orleans earlier this season, Bennett seemed to take exception to the way Graham celebrated after scoring the Saints’ only touchdown.
Graham had three catches for 42 yards in that game, one of his least productive performances of the season. Seattle held him to just one catch for 8 yards Saturday, a remarkable accomplishment given the matchup problems he presents and not to mention his credentials as one of the game’s best offensive weapons.
That is, unless you ask Bennett.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.