Cornelius O'Landa Bennett (born August 25, 1965) is a former American football linebacker who played for the Buffalo Bills from 1987 to 1995, Atlanta Falcons from 1996 to 1998, and the Indianapolis Colts from 1999 to 2000. Bennett was a five-time Pro Bowler, being elected in 1988, and 1990–1993, and won the AFC Defensive Player of the Year award twice (1988 and 1991).
|No. 55, 97|
August 25, 1965 |
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||240 lb (109 kg)|
|High school:||Birmingham (AL) Ensley|
|NFL Draft:||1987 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Bennett was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He played halfback and several other positions while attending Ensley High School in Birmingham. Bennett was an excellent basketball and baseball player during his high school career. Bennett was an all-state performer for the football team his senior year, amassing over 1,000 yards on 101 rushes. Bennett was nicknamed "Biscuit" by friends because he always had room for one more.
Bennett played for the University of Alabama from 1983–1986. Bennett was a first selection on the College Football All-America Team three 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. As a senior, he won the Lombardi Award, SEC Player of the Year honors, and finished 7th in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy. In his four seasons at the University of Alabama, Bennett recorded 287 tackles, 21½ sacks, and 3 fumble recoveries. His most famous play was in 1986 when he leveled Notre Dame quarterback Steve Beuerlein, immortalized in a painting by artist Daniel Moore titled simply, ‘The Sack.’ In 2005, Bennett was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
|“||L. T.'s in a class all by himself. I'll put L. T. first, then Tippett, and Bennett behind him.||”|
|— Jets fullback Roger Vick, ranking the NFL's best pass rushers during the 1988 season.|
After his college career, Bennett was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the second pick of the 1987 NFL Draft. The 1987 draft class was deemed the "Year of Linebacker", but Bennett was considered to stand "head-and-shoulders above the rest." Bennett was Alabama's highest draft selection since quarterback Joe Namath went 12th overall in 1965, and as of 2015[update], remains the highest selected Crimson Tide defender ever.
Bennett and the Colts were unable to come to an agreement on a contract. Bennett was then dealt to the Buffalo Bills from the Colts in a three-way trade that also included Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson and Bills running back Greg Bell. This trade occurred in the fall of the 1987 season, 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 five Super Bowl appearances (four with Buffalo and one with Atlanta), but they lost them all (an NFL record he shares with offensive lineman Glenn Parker ). In his 14 NFL seasons, he recorded 71½ sacks, 7 interceptions, 112 return yards, 31 forced fumbles, 27 fumble recoveries, 78 fumble return yards, and three touchdowns (one interception, one fumble return, and one blocked field goal return).
At the time of his retirement, Bennett's 27 defensive fumble recoveries were the third most in NFL history.
Bennett was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
On May 1997, Bennett committed "vicious acts" during a sexual assault of a woman at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Buffalo. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 days in jail for sexual misconduct. He was also placed on three years' probation, fined $500, ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, ordered to pay back $617 in medical bills for the woman, and ordered to undergo anger-management and substance-abuse counseling.
In May 2010, Bennett announced he will donate his brain for a study of long-term brain injuries resulting from football-related injuries.
- "Trying To Avoid Bills` Bennett Has Become Foes` No. 1 Pastime".
- Eskenazi, Gerald (January 5, 1989), "Bennett of Bills Already Rated As One of the N.F.L.'s Best", New York Times
- Eskenazi, Gerald (October 17, 1988), "Bills' Bennett Says He's Best", New York Times
- "Starting With Bennett, It's Year Of Linebacker". Sun Sentinel. April 27, 1987.
- Eskenazi, Gerald (December 18, 1987), "Trade for Bennett Pays Off for Bills", New York Times
- "Cards broadcaster lost 5 Super Bowls".
- "FOX Facts: NFL Player Marquise Hill Found Dead in New Orleans' Lake Ponchartrain". Fox News. 2007-05-28. Retrieved 2017-11-17.
- Fabrizio, Tony. "Cornelius Bennett: Back on Top - TheCabin.net". thecabin.net.
- "JUDGE SAYS CORNELIUS BENNETT MUST DO JAIL TIME IN SEX ASSAULT". 1 April 1998.
- Press, The Associated (27 February 1998). "N.F.L.: NOTEBOOK; Bennett Draws Jail Term in Sex Case" – via www.nytimes.com.
- "USATODAY.com - Cases involving athletes and sexual assault". usatoday30.usatoday.com.
- "Property valuation of S 7th Avenue, Hollywood, FL: 800 (ELIO DIBIASE SR & ELIO DIBIASE LIV TR), 818 (CORNELIUS BENNETT & KIMBERLY BENNETT), 836 (KERRY E ROSENTHAL & JEANNE G ROSENTHAL) (tax assessments)". city-data.com.
- "Cornelius Bennett's putting brain where his mouth is for future NFL players". The Birmingham News. May 12, 2010.