We’re always happy to pay tribute to the giants of the past whose shoulders we proudly stand on. With a tradition of recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of the brightest and best from our industry, we are happy to present the past winners below. If you’d like more information, feel free to get in touch.
Cornelius Bennett, born on August 25, 1965, is a former professional football player known for his successful career as a linebacker in the NFL. He played for the Buffalo Bills from 1987 to 1995, the Atlanta Falcons from 1996 to 1998, and the Indianapolis Colts from 1999 to 2000. Bennett achieved significant recognition, being selected to the Pro Bowl five times and earning First-team All-Pro honors three times. He was also named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1988 and 1991.
Bennett's football journey began in Birmingham, Alabama, where he attended Ensley High School. He showcased his versatility by excelling in multiple positions, including halfback. Bennett's outstanding performance on the football field during his senior year earned him recognition as an all-state performer, accumulating over 1,000 yards on 101 rushes. His friends affectionately nicknamed him "Biscuit" for his seemingly limitless potential.
Continuing his football career at the University of Alabama from 1983 to 1986, Bennett left an indelible mark. He was a standout player, earning the distinction of being a three-time First-Team All-American, a rare accomplishment shared by only one other Alabama player. Bennett's senior year was particularly memorable, as he won the Lombardi Award, SEC Player of the Year honors, and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting. Throughout his college career, he recorded impressive statistics, including 287 tackles, 21.5 sacks, and 3 fumble recoveries. Notably, Bennett's devastating sack on Notre Dame quarterback Steve Beuerlein in 1986 became immortalized in a painting titled 'The Sack' by artist Daniel Moore.
In 2005, Bennett was rightfully inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Following his successful college career, Bennett was chosen as the second overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He was traded to the Buffalo Bills in a three-way trade involving notable players such as Eric Dickerson. Bennett's impact as a left outside linebacker was instrumental in his teams' five Super Bowl appearances. Over his 14 seasons in the NFL, he amassed impressive statistics, including 71.5 sacks, 7 interceptions, 31 forced fumbles, and 27 fumble recoveries. At the time of his retirement, Bennett's 27 defensive fumble recoveries ranked among the top three in NFL history.
Beyond his accomplishments on the field, Bennett's personal life and contributions should also be noted. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, solidifying his legacy as one of the state's great athletes. Bennett's dedication to the sport was evident when he pledged to donate his brain for a study on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a long-term brain injury resulting from football-related injuries. Bennett resides in Golden Beach, Florida, enjoying the fruits of his successful football career.