Former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett addressed his January arrest on Friday for the first time during a media session at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships — including Georgia’s 65-7 win over the TCU Horned Frogs on Jan. 9 — spoke candidly about the incident, in which the 25-year-old was detained for public intoxication in Dallas.
“It was a mistake that everybody’s aware of,” Bennett said, according to Pro Football Talk. “I understand why that can’t happen. I’ve talked to coaches about it, talked to GMs. I’ve apologized to my family. That’s who I felt worse about; I felt like I let them down because no matter where I go now [people are going to know about it].
“Even without all this, I’ve got an obligation. I’m the fourth [Stetson Bennett]. You can’t do that if you’re last name is Bennett. I know better,” he continued.
Bennett, whose behavior has been heavily scrutinized in recent months, was arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, when officers received a complaint about a man banging on doors.
Authorities in Dallas recently released the arrest report to the Athens Banner-Herald, which stated that Bennett was seen “walking further back in the gated area to hide behind a brick wall by a random (apartment) in attempt to possibly avoid (the arresting officers) detection.”
Bennett, who had been in Dallas training ahead of the NFL combine, was called “to come from behind the wall with his hands visible,” per the report.
Earlier this week, the Athens Banner-Herald reported that at least nine Georgia players have been arrested in the past 13-and-a-half months.
Bennett assured the public that each of these arrests was the individual’s responsibility and not a product of the culture in the locker room.
“No. Those were individual mistakes that those individuals are responsible for. Not a culture issue,” Stetson said Friday at the combine.
Prior to the combine, Bennett — a former walk-on — skipped out on February’s Senior Bowl, a move chastised by some as it could have been another opportunity for the quarterback to showcase his skillset before the NFL Draft.
Bennett elaborated on his decision-making Friday.
“I never … It was more so [skipping] the Shrine Bowl. It wasn’t really the Senior Bowl,” Bennett said.
“I really wanted to play in it. There was a lot going on at the moment. Discussed with people that were close to me, asked advice. Decided that I needed to go train. I needed to get better. I do wish that I could have but just ultimately decided the other was the better choice.”
Elsewhere in January, Bennett also engaged in a fiery back-and-forth with an Atlanta radio host, who criticized the quarterback for being glued to his phone during the Bulldogs’ victory celebrations.
Bennett touched upon the cell phone controversy Friday, stating in part, “people are entitled to their opinion.”
“Yeah, I saw it as a parade for us who won, and I was playing music [for teammates] and trying to have a good time. People took it as I was … I don’t really know what people took it [as], but they didn’t like it. I’m sorry about that, but I strictly just saw it as a chance for me, Sed [Sedrick Van Pran] and Chris [Smith] one last trip down Lumpkin on the way to Sanford together, and I just wanted to play the best tunes we could at that moment,” he said.
Despite a series of bumps in the road, Bennett is confident in his abilities to make it in the NFL.
“My job, my obligation is to the team that I’m drafted to, to be the best player for that [team], to learn to play football,” Bennett said. “At the end of the day, I’ve never been [one to make] waves or anything like that. I keep my head down. I play ball. Whatever’s asked of me is asked of me.”
Bennett posted a college career record of 29-3 and passed for 8,429 yards with 66 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.