Like a stylish mad scientist, Martellus Bennett tinkers in his laboratory.
It's away from football and in the basement of his suburban home where his creative mind flourishes. It's where the self-proclaimed "visionary architect" paints, doodles and dabbles in so many ventures that it's a struggle to keep up.
At age 26, Bennett is unlike any athlete in Chicago. The gregarious and eccentric tight end is halfway through his first season with the Bears and sixth in the NFL as Baltimore heads to Soldier Field on Sunday. He has made quite an impression since being lured from the N.Y. Giants with a reported four-year, $20.4 million deal.
Drawing attention comes naturally for Bennett. He's a nonstop quote machine, having likened coach Marc Trestman to Willy Wonka as a nod to his intelligence and compared himself and his wife to celebrity power couple Jay Z and Beyonce.
His outspoken personality hasn't changed much since he was 14, said tight end Fendi Onobun, who grew up with Bennett in Houston and is on the Bears practice squad.
"He's always been outgoing," Onobun said. "He's always been an individual who just can attract attention. He's funny, he's witty, that's just him. There's really no word to really describe his personality. He's just Marty."
Away from the field, Bennett clutches a sketchpad as effortlessly as he cradles a football. He's as comfortable wearing Louis Vuitton designer kicks as he is in cleats. He tweets daily and floods his Instagram account with GQ-esque style photos.
Even though he has a few years left on his contract, he is plotting his next move.
"For me, life after football, all I really want to do is just create stuff and make stuff," Bennett said.
"It just gives me balance because football is so structured all the time and you have a routine and a certain way to do things. So when you create things, you can do it any way you want to do it. If I was just all football all the time, I'd go crazy. If I was just all art all the time, I'd go crazy as well."
Playing football is how Bennett earns his paycheck. But he's much more than a pass catcher and blocker. He's a joker and a jack of all trades.
With 40 catches, 421 yards and four touchdowns so far this season, the 6-foot-6 Bennett is approaching the career highs he posted in New York in 2012 (55, 626, five).
Big plays definitely are part of his repertoire, like his acrobatic, game-winning touchdown grab against Minnesota in Week 2.
"He can lock down a defensive end. He's great at run blocking. Then you see him run routes and you're like, man, we've got to throw him the ball," quarterback Jay Cutler said.
Against New Orleans in Week 6, a scary airborne flip scared his wife badly.
"I was all right," he said matter of factly afterward. "I mean, it probably looked cool on TV, but I'm all right. I made the play and that's all that really matters. … I did gymnastics as a little kid so I finished the flip."
Pssst. Bennett and his wife, Siggi, are expecting a girl in March. The man known as @MartysaurusRex on Twitter refers to their first child baby, due in March, as Minisaurus Rex.
In his spare time, Bennett has started a collection with monster and dinosaur books while working to baby-proof his home.
"I want to be a lot like my dad was," he said. "Basically I want to help her grow, help her blossom. I want to be the gardener in her life until her petals are big enough where she starts having her own flower bed."
He can come off as so playful that one can see how easily he would get along with kids. He often poses with his nieces on Instagram and says Matt Forte's daughter smiles when she sees him.
"He's still a child at heart and that's one of the qualities I love about him so much," Siggi Bennett said. "I think what he's going to bring to parenting involving that [passion for art] is going to be awesome, and our kid is going to be the most eclectic, weird, imaginative, creative child that was probably ever born."
If Bennett wasn't a football player, he'd beg Pixar or DreamWorks for a job. He's a fan of Tim Burton, Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss and would love to make an animated film.
He's already got the storyline in mind. He shared his vision last month at an art show at City Winery in the West Loop where he introduced McGuire, a character named after his agent, in the fictional Dinosaurland theme park. He's been developing the characters, personality and artwork for two years.
The Bennett home is something of an art gallery, and so is his body. He counts 287 tattoos, and most are designs he sketched. He still wants more, perhaps a leg sleeve or on his ribs where he still has space.
When his football gloves are off, more ink is visible. "Failure" is tattooed on his left hand and "success" on his right hand because he considers success to be the right option in life.
He's no stranger to the mic, either. Bennett has a hip-hop album with his younger brother called "Fast Food" on iTunes, and his now-famous "I love Cap'n Crunch" video.
He tweeted last month that his next album will be titled "Dinosaurs and Dinomite," out next summer.
"I might take the Will Smith approach now and not curse anymore," said Bennett, who played trombone, trumpet and clarinet as a kid. He did get in trouble and was reportedly fined $22,000 by the Cowboys in 2009 for posting a rap video with derogatory language to YouTube.
Consider Bennett a style maven.
Before moving to Chicago, he said he donated 400 pairs of sneakers to charity. That cleared room for his new collection of designer shoes. So far he's got about 25 pairs and counts Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga among them.
Bennett delved more into fashion after living in New York City. He's sketched designs and even interned for a day at Young & Reckless clothing company.
"I just like to look good, honestly," he said. "What happened was when I started feeling like, 'Man, I'm spending a lot of money buying clothes,' why don't I just make what I want to wear? I like women's fashion more, so I like dressing my wife, like styling her and buying stuff for her more so than myself."
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