At 30-years-old, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett says he's "getting younger by the day."
So what is Bennett's secret to feeling so youthful at an age that is hardly considered young by NFL standards?
"Every day I've decided to live a stress-free life, peaceful," Bennett said. "The more peaceful you are, the less stressful, the younger you are. That's where you need to be at to feel young. I've worked really hard to be peaceful and have a great day every day, not get stressed out. Why be stressed out? I'm young, I'm black and I'm rich in America, I cannot complain."
Yet if you've watched Bennett in practice this summer, you've seen some moments that have been… well let's just say they've been less than stress-free and peaceful.
"That's part of the game, that's different," Bennett explained a day after he and tackle Bradley Sowell took part in a scuffle during practice. "This is a whole different arena, this is the gladiator arena. You can't come out here and be too peaceful out here or you'll get hurt. But at the end of the day, when I go home I try to be as peaceful as I can."
As was the case earlier in camp when Bennett got into it with rookie Germain Ifedi, both Bennett and Sowell made peace quickly, and all parties involved downplayed the significance of any practice dust-ups, a common occurrence in training camps around the NFL.
"It's just two people competing," Sowell said. "Those are two personalities that when they go against each other, it can be very vicious. We both like to win. Honestly, it's an honor to go against someone like Michael Bennett, it's going to make me so much better. It just got a little heated, but at the end of the day, I love Mike. He's one of my favorite players, I've enjoyed watching him over the years. So we talked it out really quick and we were sitting there having lunch together, so it was nothing big."
While it might be hard for most people to understand a world in which co-workers can enjoy lunch together moments after having to be separated from each other at practice, that's not unusual in a profession where, as Bennett puts it, "it's a whole bunch of alpha males running around here," taking part in a job where, "you see hand-to-hand contact daily."
"It's just like if you have a brother and you're fighting over a video game or something," Sowell added. "It's as simple as that. It gets heated, but at the same time, we're both Seahawks. If somebody were to do that to him, I'd have his back any day."
While coaches like the intensity shown in practice, they don't like it when things escalate too far, because similar behavior in a game could lead to an ejection, but they do understand that tempers can flare this time of year, which isn't a big deal as long as it doesn't carry over off the field.
"(Bennett) is a passionate guy and he got kind of riled up today," Carroll said Sunday. "It was awesome those two guys walked off the field together, and that's what's most important—how we respond and get back. He's just kind of fighting for his own a little bit. One of those young guys got knocked around a little bit, he was standing up for him. He's got a lot of pride and he's an incredible competitor, but he has to make sure he stays poised so he doesn't get himself in trouble. That was a good illustration of that today."
On Bennett and Sowell making peace while walking off the field after practice, Carroll said, "I can't give you a better illustration, you just saw it. We're very connected and there's a respect that's here about competing and battling, and you're working to take it as far as you can and still respect the person across from you. Sometimes that line gets crossed a little bit and it's a very competitive whirlwind, very competitive game we play. These guys care with all their heart and we have to learn how to deal and manage with that."
To Bennett, the issue when things have become heated is that he feels like his health or that of a teammate is being put at risk.
"I don't really treat the game like a game, I treat it as a job, and it's for feeding my family," he said. "So I feel like somebody is doing something to injure me, I feel like he's taking food out of my daughter's mouth or my wife's. So I take that to heart, that drives me insane, especially if we're on the same team."
And after clearing the air with Sowell, Bennett came away feeling like there was mutual respect between the two, not animosity.
"For me, I respect him," Bennett said. "I would never do anything like that to him. After I approached him and let him know my mindset to how I play the game, how I approach the game, he understands why he shouldn't do that kind of stuff on me. Because I'm taking the game to another level where I'm just trying to be the best pro I can every day when I step on the field."
The Seahawks held practice on Monday at Virginia Mason Athletic Center to prepare for their third preseason game.