On the off chance you are spending your holiday season trying to parse the meaning of hip thrusts, “Black Santa” offers the gift of explanation.
An only-Michael-Bennett, all-timer explanation.
“Two pumps gets you a baby,” the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl defensive end said Wednesday. “Three pumps gets you a fine.”
Bennett was joking about the unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty he got — rather, absolutely earned — during Seattle’s win last Thursday night over Los Angeles. It was for doing three, exaggerated hip thrusts in the middle of the field, a comic celebration of his first sack since his five-game absence for arthroscopic knee surgery.
In the past, Bennett has gotten away with two hip thrusts following sacks.
This laughable line of two thrusts versus three got immortalized within the Seahawks’ locker room a couple years ago. Coach Pete Carroll showed the team a “McCringleberry” mock touchdown-celebration skit from the “Key and Peele” comedy show to extend the laughs about Bennett’s sack dance.
The question Wednesday of whether Bennett, a husband and father of three daughters, subscribes to Key and Peele’s three-pump criterion for when NFL officials deem a celebration excessive is what prompted his epic response.
It’s the best of what have been many memorable quotes in the outspoken Bennett’s Seattle career.
He said teammate and fellow Pro Bowl defensive end Cliff Avril is partly to blame for his penalty against the Rams. On Wednesday, Avril, while saying he considers Bennett to be like a brother, copped to egging on his close friend to continue his celebration as they stood near fallen Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff.
“Cliff had everything to do with it,” Bennett said. “Good friends don’t let friends do that.”
Bennett was speaking while wearing a brown, fur cap over a Christmas-themed sweater. The red sweater with white snowflakes and dots depicted the self-proclaimed “Black Santa” in his No. 72 uniform doing, yes, his hip-thrust sack dance.
Reminded he was wearing the same, ugly sweater around team headquarters on Tuesday, Bennett said: “I got like 20 of them. You want one?”
Beyond his characteristic humor, Bennett echoed what wide receiver Doug Baldwin and quarterback Russell Wilson said Wednesday, three days before the NFC West-champion Seahawks (9-4-1) host Arizona (5-8-1).
They all say there is no divide in the Seahawks’ locker room.
“We’re committed to winning,” Wilson said. “We are committed to one another.”
Seahawks divisiveness has been a topic in the aftermath of Richard Sherman berating Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for having Wilson throw a pass from the 1-yard line during the Rams game.
“I think, overall, the media and people, they want to play it up because they want to divide the team,” Bennett said. “Everybody wants to find a reason to divide, or find a reason to find something, a reason, why there is a fault. It’s something, because nobody can believe in true happiness, or have people be happy. …
“I don’t think Richard Sherman did it and went out to tear the team apart. He’s a competitive person. Just like Darrell Bevell. He wants to win, too.”
So, Mr. Bennett, is this Seahawks locker room the place of true happiness?
“The only place of true happiness,” he said, “is with my wife.”
Earl Thomas keeps the idea going of him possibly retiring following a broken tibia.
This week, the Seahawks’ All-Pro free safety, out for the season on injured reserve, went on the national Rich Eisen Show. He spoke over the phone to the NFL Network host and told him when he was back at team headquarters recently he had conflicting feelings.
“Of course, emotions were taking over me (after the injury), but I was still thinking clearly in my eyes,” Thomas told Eisen. “Like I said, I still kind of feel the same way. It’s a lot of pressure when you play in this game. I play at a high level and my teammates expect me to do what I do.
“ … When I go out there, I want to be out there (with) no fear. … But if I have any doubts, I don’t want to play the game."
Minutes after the 27-year-old learned he broke his shin colliding with teammate Kam Chancellor in Seattle’s home win Dec. 4, Thomas posted on Twitter he was considering retirement.
Does his defensive coordinator and previous position coach believe Thomas would quit now?
“I don’t think he’s serious, at all,” Kris Richard said following practice Wednesday. “I know he’s focused in on recovery. That should be the focal point right now.”
Avril, 30, was grinning from Renton to Tacoma over getting selected on Tuesday for the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. “Finally, I made it! Nine years!” he said. “Got a lot of phone calls. Got a lot of text messages — not responding to everybody, so I’m sorry. It was cool to finally get the nod.” Avril has a career-high 11 1/2 sacks in 14 games, tied for third-most in the NFL. … Bennett missed practice to rest the sore neck he injured unknowingly while tackling Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley. “I hit my neck against the other guy’s. It was a bang-bang type of play,” Bennett said. “I just kind of beasted the other guy. I forgot he was a human being, and from there, it just happened.” … The team listed Jon Ryan, still in the league’s concussion protocol, as limited in practice — though limited is a relative term for a punter in a normal NFL practice. … Wilson jokingly started his weekly press conference with: “Don’t make me take y’all’s credentials, now.” A day earlier Sherman challenged a Seattle radio personality for questioning the defensive back’s place to criticize an offensive play call. Sherman threatened 710-AM’s Jim Moore that he could have Moore’s team credential pulled.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle