May 28, 2015

Highlighted Year: Cornelius Bennett, 1988

Linebacker, Buffalo Bills

Age:  23
2nd season in pro football & with Bills
College: Alabama
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 235

Bennett won the Lombardi Trophy as college football’s top lineman as a senior in 1986 and was the SEC Player of the Year in addition to being a consensus first-team All-American. He was chosen by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 1987 NFL draft (second overall), but the Colts were unable to sign him and traded his rights to Buffalo as part of a large three-team deal that also sent star RB Eric Dickerson from the Rams to Indianapolis. Bennett stepped into the starting lineup at outside linebacker for the last seven games of the strike-interrupted season and recorded 8.5 sacks. With his excellent speed and ability, he quickly established himself as a top player at his position.

1988 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 9.5 [14, tied with Dan Hampton & Jim Skow]
Most sacks, game – 2.5 vs. Green Bay 10/30
Multi-sack games – 1
Interceptions – 2
Most interceptions, game – 1 vs. Minnesota 9/4, at Miami 11/14
Int. return yards – 30
Most int. return yards, game – 30 (on 1 int.) at Miami 11/14
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 3
Fumble recovery TDs – 0
Forced fumbles – 3
Tackles – 103

Postseason: 2 G
Sacks – 0
Interceptions – 0
TD – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-AFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Bills went 12-4 to finish first in the AFC East while leading the conference in sacks (46), fewest yards allowed (4578), and fewest points allowed (237). Won AFC Divisional playoff over Houston Oilers (17-10). Lost AFC Championship to Cincinnati Bengals (21-10).

Bennett was hampered by a knee injury in 1989 and had a lesser performance, but bounced back to gain selection to four straight Pro Bowls in the ensuing seasons. Versatile and capable of dominating play, he was part of an excellent corps of linebackers for a club that won AFC Championships from 1990 through ’93. Bennett remained with Buffalo through 1995 before moving on to Atlanta as a free agent in ’96. He provided leadership as well as good play, despite some problems with injuries and declining skills, and in 1998 again started for a team that reached the Super Bowl. Bennett spent his last two seasons with the club that originally drafted him, the Colts, in 1999 and 2000. Overall, he played in 206 regular season game over 14 seasons, 129 of those games coming in nine years with Buffalo. Bennett recorded 71.5 sacks and over a thousand tackles, recovered 27 fumbles, and received first-team All-NFL honors after two seasons, at least some All-AFC honors after three others, and was named to five Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970