Developments in Michael Bennett’s ongoing legal drama continued to filter out Monday afternoon after the Philadelphia Eagles defensive end appeared in a Houston courtroom with his lawyer Rusty Hardin. Bennett is accused of shoving a 66-year-old paraplegic security guard while attempting to get onto the field to celebrate with his brother Martellus, following the New England Patriots stunning comeback win in Super Bowl LI, which took place at Houston’s NRG Stadium.
Hardin, who’s defended a plethora of high-profile professional athletes over the course of his career laid out the essence of Bennett’s defense. Hardin explained that his client didn’t even touch the paraplegic security guard he is accused of assaulting.
Michael Bennett through his career
Michael Bennett through his career
SEATTLE - 2009: Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by NFL Photos)
TAMPA BAY, FL - CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Michael Bennett of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL football team. This image reflects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers active roster of 2010 when this image was taken. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 12: Michael Bennett #71 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers heads off the field before the game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on December 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 02: Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks runs for a touchdown after recovering a fumble against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter during a game at CenturyLink Field on December 2, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - DECEMBER 29: Malcolm Smith #53 celebrates returning an interception for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks of the St. Louis Rams with teammates Michael Bennett #72, Byron Maxwell #41 and Bruce Irvin #51 on December 29, 2013 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
27 JAN 2014: Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) through the lens of a video camera as he addresses the Media during the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII press conference in Jersey City,NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
02 February 2014: Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) during Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ The Seahawks defeated the Broncos 43-8. (Photo by Rich Kane/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
October 6, 2014: Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) rallies his teammates before a match between the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 18: Russell Wilson #3 and Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate after the 2015 NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
CHANDLER, AZ - JANUARY 29: Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks speaks during a Super Bowl XLIX media availability at the Arizona Grand Hotel on January 29, 2015 in Chandler, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is congratulated by Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks after Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 29: Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks dirong warmups for the game with the San Diego Chargers during preseason at Qualcomm Stadium on August 29, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after a sack of Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on October 22, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
January 30 2016: Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennett signs autographs after the final Pro Bowl practice at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu, HI. (Photo by Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
HONOLULU, HI - SUNDAY, JANUARY 31: Team Irvin defensive end Michael Bennett #72 Seattle Seahawks puts bunny ears behind Team Rice kick returner Tyler Lockett #16 of the Seattle Seahawks after the conclusion of the second half of the 2016 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 31, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii.Team Irvin defeated Team Rice 49-27. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11: Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks watches action during the first half of a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers talks with defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks after the game at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 10: Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks plays defensive end in the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 10, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 1: Defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks sits on the bench during the national anthem before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at CenturyLink Field on October 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 29: Members of the Seattle Seahawks sit on the bench during the national anthem, including Frank Clark #55, Jarran Reed #90, Michael Bennett #72 and Cliff Avril #56, before the game against the Houston Texans at CenturyLink Field on October 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 09: Running back Thomas Rawls #34, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson #91, defensive tackle Nazair Jones #92, defensive end Branden Jackson #67, defensive tackle Jarran Reed #90 and defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks link arms during the national anthem for the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 9, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 28: Defensive End Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks of the NFC Team as he arrives to the NFL Pro Bowl Game at Camping World Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
“He just flat-out didn’t do it. It wasn’t a case of, ‘He didn’t shove her that hard,’ or anything like that. … He never touched her.”
Hardin only has to create reasonable doubt that the incident was an accident so for him to assert that there wasn’t any contact at all is an interesting legal strategy. Considering there was no video of Bennett’s alleged assault, witness testimony will be paramount.
And according to Hardin, he has witnesses who can testify that Bennett never shoved the woman.
“There were bunches of families going through that door,” Hardin told the Inquirer and the Daily News. “They all tried different places. Everybody sort of streamed through there. I’m not sure this woman knew who [shoved her.]”
This the only time in 2018 you’ll hear a Hardin in Houston arguing to anyone who’ll listen that there was no contact as he tried to get through a scrum. Hardin was most taken aback by the vitriolic tone of Houston PD Chief Art Acevedo’s press conference remarks Friday, in which he called Bennett “morally corrupt” and “pathetic.”
“I’ve never seen it before. We don’t talk about capital murder defendants like that,” Hardin said.
A trial date hasn’t been set, assuming there is one instead of a plea, but for better or worse this is shaping up to be one of the most bizarre legal sagas involving a professional athlete in recent years,