Darren Bennett, a legendary American Football punter from Australia

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  • Darren Bennett, a legendary American Football punter from Australia

Travel the world and you will discover yourself, I don’t remember where or how I heard these words for the first time and I didn’t even understand what they meant until I read about Darren Bennett. Bennett was born on 9 January, 1965 in Sydney, New South Wales. He is an ex Aussie rules football player who also played for the NFL (National Football League) as a punter.

Bennett played 12 seasons of Australian Rules football for two clubs. His short yet exciting career as an Australian Rules footballer earned him great respect and recognition in Australia. For kicking 215 goals from only 74 games, The Melbourne Football Club adorned him as one of the club’s 150 Heroes of the last 150 years.

Bennett played for three clubs (Amsterdam Admirals, San Diego Chargers, and Minnesota Vikings) during his career as an American Football player and is known as one of the best players of the 1990’s.

Bennett chose to visit California for his honeymoon which turned out to be a life and career altering decision. He contacted the San Diego Chargers and requested the coaching staff for a tryout. The Chargers saw enormous potential and offered him a place on the team’s practice squad.

The chargers exported him to The Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe in the spring of 1995. This was the formal beginning of Bennett’s illustrious career as an American Football player. Bennett had the highest punting average in the league and earned all-league honours.

He was made the Chargers’ regular punter in the fall of 1995. Bennett showed great promise and finished his rookie season with the second highest punting average in the league. He was also selected for the AFC (American Football Conference) Pro Bowl in his very first season as an American Football player.

Bennett was known for his hard work and natural talent. He was regarded as one of NFL’s best punters during the 1990’s. He was also a participant in Australia’s first American Bowl that took place in Sydney’s Stadium Australia on 7 August, 1999. Bennett played against the Denver Broncos.

The 21st century did not slow Bennett down at all; he continued impressing everyone and became a part of another Pro Bowl team in 2000. Bennett’s punts were blocked only thrice in his entire career as an American Football player, which is more than impressive to say the least. Bennett hit a total of 836 punts gaining 36,316 punting yards in his career with a punting average of 43.4 yards per punt.

Being a former Aussie Rules football player, Bennett had an intimidating physique and never shied away from physical contact on special teams. Specialist kickers (e.g. punters) are not usually known for their ability to physically challenge their opponents. Bennett surprised everyone when he tackled a punt returner and rendered him unconscious during his rookie season.

After playing 144 games for the Chargers, Bennett became a Part of the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent in 2004. He spent one season with the Vikings and was cut in September 2005 due to a pre-season injury. He was recalled on a temporary contract by the Vikings in December 2005 to replace their injured starting punter Chris Kluwe. He played just one game and was subsequently released by the Vikings.

Bennett played a total of 159 NFL games in his career, he is also known as the introducer of the “Aussie Rules kick” (known as Drop punt in Australia) in the NFL. This punting technique is very effective and is currently being utilized in pooch-punt situations by half of the punters in the NFL.

Bennett is an avid philanthropist and along with his wife Rosemary and two sons is a resident of two continents (Australia and North America). His ability, dedication and love for football make him a true legend of the sport.    

 

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own and in no way represent Bettor.com's official editorial policy.

 

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