NFL

Sammy Watkins Might Be in a Cult

Skim through any list of the best wide receivers in the NFL today and chances are you won’t find Sammy Watkins included. Watkins’ regular-season numbers are respectable but fall short of Pro Bowl levels. Yet he has proven himself a highly talented postseason player and was a key part of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory last year.

Recently, however, Watkins has received more attention for his somewhat unorthodox belief system than for his contributions on the field. Watkins is a member of the group known as “The Republic of Mentellect,” which many people describe as a cult.

Sammy Watkins Watkins’ NFL career so far

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The Buffalo Bills selected Watkins with the fourth pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, trading up with the Cleveland Browns in order to get him. The Bills were apparently convinced that Watkins fit the profile of a franchise-caliber wide receiver, one who they could count on for many years to come. As it was, Watkins ended up spending just three years with the team.

He showed flashes of promise in those seasons with the Bills. As a rookie, he caught 65 receptions for 982 yards, while scoring six touchdowns. He was targeted less in his second season, although he still managed to break the 1,000 yard mark for the first — and so far only — time in his career.

At times during that 2015 season, Watkins voiced his displeasure with his low usage rate. During the offseason, Watkins broke a bone in his foot and subsequently missed a number of games, putting up numbers roughly on par with previous years when he was healthy. Then, in August 2017, the Bills traded Watkins to the LA Rams for E.J. Gaines and a future second-round pick.

Watkins had a so-so season with the Rams, before signing a three-year deal with the Chiefs in March 2018. He put solid if unspectacular numbers in the regular season, but proved himself capable of turning on the jets in the playoffs. En route to the Chief’s 2019 Super Bowl win, Watkins caught 14 receptions for 288 yards, with a stellar catch percentage of 77.8%.

Relationship with mentellect

Watkins has always maintained an outspoken social media presence. At times he’s been downright combative, especially when dealing with fans who have criticized his injury history. He’s also posted plenty about his unusual belief system — one that apparently has him convinced that he is not a human but actually an “advance reptilian solar being.”

Watkins also dropped numerous hints that his adherence to mentellect was the source of his admittedly odd beliefs. At one point, one of Watkins’ followers pointed out that mentellect seemed a lot like a cult.

Watkins’ response was interesting, in that he didn’t deny the accusation. Instead, he stated that even Christianity might be judged a cult — or at the very least “a set of beliefs which varies and control people and not true at all.”

Other aspects of Sammy Watkins’ belief system

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A recent Bleacher Report profile helped to elucidate a number of other aspects of Watkins’ beliefs, although it’s unclear how many of them might stem directly from the principles espoused by mentellect. For one thing, Watkins doesn’t believe that death is the end for a human being, instead advocating for a system of reincarnation: “you keep coming back.”

Watkins also believes that dreams are more than just dreams, but rather manifestations of an astral realm. Those who know how can use that realm to being about certain events in the real world. Watkins apparently believes that his manipulations on the astral plane were a key part of the Chiefs’ success in last year’s AFC Championship Game.

It didn’t take long for NFL fans on Reddit to start taking apart Watkins’ views, as well as mentellect itself. Yet if Watkins’ beliefs are somehow able to keep him healthy and happy without hurting anybody, there’s nothing really wrong with them.

That’s surely the attitude that the Chiefs are taking, hoping that Watkins can continue to deliver in ways that lead them to continued Super Bowl success in the coming seasons.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference