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Styf: Bennett shows patience, even with a man in his beard

Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 3:01 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 7, 2014 3:56 p.m. CDT

I slept in a pink bed last night. And I listened to the Lion King soundtrack on the way to work.

I'm weird, but neither decision was a taste one.

It's because I love my kids.

And, with one sleeping in the other's room, I chose the best place to get some uninterrupted sleep. The second happened because I simply forgot to change the channel.

While I love my own kids, I can't say the same about other people's kids. All the things that are endearing about mine are a little more annoying in others.

The close talking, the yelling, the lack of any sort of self-control and the all-around unpredictability.

All of that is multiplied when the scene is inside, somewhere you're supposed to be quiet. Somewhere you're supposed to be under control. Like airplanes and libraries.

Which brings me to Saturday, when I thought it might be fun to go to Barnes & Nobles to listen to Bears tight end Martellus Bennett read.

He seems funny, and my daughters endure watching football with me on fall Sundays, so I thought it would be neat to show them that football players are real people too.

I figured we'd sit in the back, stay quiet, and leave before he started handing out Bears stickers.

That plan was foiled faster than it takes Bennett to run a slant. He asked a question, my 4-year-old daughter yelled an answer. He asked again. The same.

Suddenly, she was sitting on the chair next to him (he invited her), telling him repeatedly he smelled like apple cores, standing a little too close for comfort and doing all those things I hope to avoid having them do in public.

All the things that annoy people about other people's kids. Especially in a place where I was hoping to remain anonymous because, you know, I work at a place where we cover the Bears.

But Bennett was never flustered. Not when my daughter stood a little too close, tried to grab his beard or even tried to grab the phone he was reading from out of his hands.

He embraced it and even stopped, got everyone in the room clapping, and let her dance. She's a show off. He could relate.

And it wasn't just one kid he gave attention to, it was all of them. One helped him read from “The Far Side,” others got nicknames. “Rainbow Unicorn,” “Apple Juice” and “Brody the Bear” were all there.

I'm not going to pretend to know Martellus and tell you he's a great guy. I have no idea.

But he is interesting, and patient. And he spent Saturday morning interacting with kids to promote reading in a situation where he was getting no noticeable benefit. He showed up, seemed legitimately excited about it and even read a few stories he had written himself, including “The Man in my Beard.”

Hence, my daughter trying to grab his beard.

Bennett's an interesting guy, who is the first I know to play professional football and write both rap albums and children's books.

From following him on Twitter (@MartysaurusRex), you'll know he likes to read, likes to be around people who read, understands credit cards can be a bad thing and isn't afraid to interact with anyone. Even when they send inappropriate things. Heck, he even starts conversations about whether or not to use the bathroom at a girls house on the first date.

He's funny, he's engaging and while he could have just as well have stayed at his own house on a Saturday morning, doing what NFL players do in the offseason, he was reading to kids at what I later found out was part of Barrington District 220s Project Horsepower.

For the 25 or so kids who showed up with their parents on Saturday, Bennett was real. He was friendly, he was patient and he made my daughter's day.

He did everything but sleep in a pink bed. That will remain my domain.

• Northwest Herald sports editor Jon Styf can be reached at jstyf@shawmedia.com or on Twitter @JonStyf.

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