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Cornelius Bennett

Cornelius Bennett

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Cornelius O'Landa Bennett (born August 25, 1965 in Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

) is a former American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 linebacker
Linebacker
A linebacker is a position in American football that was invented by football coach Fielding H. Yost of the University of Michigan. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen...

 who played for the Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are a professional football team based in Buffalo, New York. They are currently members of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

 from 1987
1987 NFL season
The 1987 NFL season was the 68th regular season of the National Football League. A 24-day players' strike reduced the 16-game season to 15. The games that were scheduled for the third week of the season were canceled, but the games for weeks 4–6 were played with replacement players...

 to 1995
1995 Buffalo Bills season
The 1995 Buffalo Bills season was the 36th season for the club and its 26th in the National Football League.-NFL Draft:-Staff:-Schedule:-AFC Wild Card Game:...

, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are a member of the South Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 from 1996
1996 NFL season
The 1996 NFL season was the 77th regular season of the National Football League and the season was marked by notable controversies from beginning to end...

 to 1998
1998 Atlanta Falcons season
The 1998 Atlanta Falcons season saw the Falcons qualify for the Super Bowl for the first time under the guidance of second-year head coach Dan Reeves. The team won its final nine games of the season to earn the #2 seed in the NFC for the playoffs and the first-week bye...

, and the Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis. They are currently members of the South Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League ....

 from 1999
1999 Indianapolis Colts season
The 1999 Indianapolis Colts season was the 47th season for the team in the National Football League and 16th in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Colts finished the National Football League's 1999 season with a record of 13 wins and 3 losses, and won the AFC East...

 to 2000
2000 Indianapolis Colts season
The 2000 Indianapolis Colts season was the 48th season for the team in the National Football League and 17th in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Colts finished the National Football League's 2000 season with a record of 10 wins and 6 losses, and finished second in the AFC East...

. Bennett was a five time Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl
In professional American football, the Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League . Since the merger with the rival American Football League in 1970, it has been officially called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, matching the top players in the American Football Conference against those...

er, being elected in 1988
1989 Pro Bowl
The 1989 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl was played on January 29, 1989 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The final score was NFC 34, AFC 3. Randall Cunningham of the Philadelphia Eagles was the game's MVP. The referee was Ben Dreith. It was the last Pro Bowl game played in the month of January for two...

, and 1990
1991 Pro Bowl
The 1991 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl was played on February 3, 1991 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The final Score was AFC 23, NFC 21. There were 50,345 people in attendance. Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills was the game's MVP. The referee was Gordon McCarter....

1993
1994 Pro Bowl
The 1994 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl was played on February 6, 1994 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The final Score was NFC 17, AFC 3. Andre Rison of the Atlanta Falcons was the game's MVP...

, and won the AFC Defensive Player of the Year award twice (1988 and 1991).

Early years


Bennett played halfback
Halfback (American football)
A halfback, sometimes referred to as a tailback, is an offensive position in American football, which lines up in the backfield and generally is responsible for carrying the ball on run plays. Historically, from the 1870s through the 1950s, the halfback position was both an offensive and defensive...

 and several other positions while playing at Ensley High School
Ensley High School
Ensley High School, located in the Ensley neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama , was founded in 1901 to serve the then-independent community of Ensley, which was centered around major plants operated by U.S. Steel and the American Cast Iron Pipe Company. It began with classes held at the Old Bush...

 in Birmingham, Alabama. Bennett was an excellent basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 and baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 player during his high school career. Bennett was an all-state performer, senior year, while amassing over 1000 yards while carrying the ball 101 times. Bennett was nicknamed "Biscuit" due to his tan complexion, while it was originally intended to act as a racial slur, Bennett decided to embrace the term and thus became a role model and activist for African Americans everywhere.

College career


Bennett played for the University of Alabama
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

 from 1983-1986. Bennett was a first selection on the College Football All-America Team
College Football All-America Team
The College Football All-America Team is an honor given annually to the best American college football players at their respective positions. The original usage of the term All-America seems to have been to the 1889 College Football All-America Team selected by Casper Whitney and published in This...

 3 times (1984–1986). He is one of only two Alabama players to be named to three All-America teams, the other being fellow linebacker Woodrow Lowe
Woodrow Lowe
Woodrow Lowe , is a former professional American football linebacker who played from 1976-1986 for the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League...

. As a senior, he won the Lombardi Award
Lombardi Award
The Rotary Lombardi Award is awarded annually to the best college football lineman or linebacker. The Lombardi Award program was approved by the Rotary Club in Houston in 1970 shortly after the death of Vince Lombardi. The committee outlined the criteria for eligibility for the award, which...

, SEC
Southeastern Conference
The Southeastern Conference is an American college athletic conference that operates in the southeastern part of the United States. It is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama...

 Player of the Year honors, and finished 7th in balloting for the Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

. In his 4 seasons there, Bennett recorded 287 tackle
Tackle (football move)
Most forms of football have a move known as a tackle. The primary purposes of tackling is to disposses an opponent of the ball, to stop the player from gaining ground towards goal or to stop them from carrying out what they intend....

s, 21½ sack
Quarterback sack
In American football and Canadian football, a sack occurs when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage before he can throw a forward pass, or when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage in the "pocket" and the intent of what he was going to do is unclear...

s, and 3 fumble
Fumble
A fumble in American and Canadian football occurs when a player, who has possession and control of the ball loses it before being downed or scoring. By rule, it is any act other than passing, kicking or successful handing that results in loss of player possession...

 recoveries. His most famous play was in 1986 when he leveled Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame du Lac is a Catholic research university located in Notre Dame, an unincorporated community north of the city of South Bend, in St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States...

 quarterback
Quarterback
Quarterback is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line...

 Steve Beuerlein
Steve Beuerlein
Stephen Taylor "Steve" Beuerlein is a former football quarterback, and currently is an NFL and college football analyst for CBS.-Education:...

, immortalized in a painting by artist Daniel Moore titled simply, The Sack.' In 2005, Bennett was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

. After his college career
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

, he was selected by the Colts with the second pick of the 1987 NFL Draft
1987 NFL Draft
The 1987 NFL Draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 28–29, 1987...

.

Professional career


Bennett and the Colts were unable to come to an agreement on a contract. Bennett was then dealt to the Bills from the Colts in a three way trade that also included Los Angeles Rams
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams are a professional American football team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are currently members of the West Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Rams have won three NFL Championships .The Rams began playing in 1936 in Cleveland,...

 running back
Running back
A running back is a gridiron football position, who is typically lined up in the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block.There are usually one or two running...

 Eric Dickerson
Eric Dickerson
Eric Demetric Dickerson is a former professional running back in the National Football League who in his career played for the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, and Atlanta Falcons.-College career:...

, and Bills running back Greg Bell. This trade occurred in the fall of the 1987 season
1987 NFL season
The 1987 NFL season was the 68th regular season of the National Football League. A 24-day players' strike reduced the 16-game season to 15. The games that were scheduled for the third week of the season were canceled, but the games for weeks 4–6 were played with replacement players...

, just before the trade deadline, and has been called "the trade of the decade" by the New York Times.

In the NFL, Bennett's talent at the left outside linebacker position helped the teams he played for to 5 Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 appearances (4 with Buffalo and 1 with Atlanta), but they lost them all. In his 14 NFL seasons, he recorded 71½ sacks, 7 interception
Interception (football)
An interception, intercept or pick is a move in many forms of football, including Canadian and American football, as well as rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules football and Gaelic football, which involves a pass, either by foot or hand, being caught by an opposition player, who usually...

s, 112 return yards
Return yards
Return yards is an American football and Canadian football statistical measure that takes several forms. In American and Canadian football, progress is measured by advancing the football towards the opposing team's Goal line...

, 27 fumble recoveries, 78 fumble return yards, and 3 touchdown
Touchdown
A touchdown is a means of scoring in American and Canadian football. Whether running, passing, returning a kickoff or punt, or recovering a turnover, a team scores a touchdown by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone.-Description:...

s (1 interception, 1 fumble return and 1 blocked field goal return).

At the time of his retirement, his 27 defensive fumble recoveries were the third most in NFL history.

Bennett was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

Bennett is the cousin of the late Marquise Hill
Marquise Hill
Marquise Hill was an American football defensive end for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft...

.

External links