What began as an NFL tryout during his honeymoon to California in 1993 ended Sunday with an induction into the Chargers Hall of Fame.
During halftime of the game against the Baltimore Ravens, Darren Bennett was officially inducted as the 36th member of the Chargers Ring of Honor.
Bennett, who beat out running back Natrone Means and wide receiver Anthony Miller for the honor, was elected by a fan vote for the first time in franchise history.
“When I left, we didn’t have halls of fame in Australia, it wasn’t something you aspire to,” Bennett said. “When you’re out there (on the field), it’s a really emotional moment.”
Before coming to America, Bennett was an Australia Rules Football star in the early 90’s before injuries caught up with him and he retired in 1993.
It was that year that the story of Bennett, the NFL punter began.
While on his honeymoon, Bennett contacted the San Diego Chargers coaching staff, asking for a tryout. He was given one and impressed the staff enough to be put on the practice squad that season at the age of 29.
In 1995, the Chargers sent him to NFL Europe, where he earned all-league honors as a member of the Amsterdam Admirals. Later that fall, he was named the Chargers starting punter and never looked back.
In his 11-year career, Bennett was named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad twice and had just one punt blocked in his entire career. He also owns just about every punting record in Chargers history, including career punts (771), punts in a season (95) and punts in a game (11). He also holds the record for career punt yards (33,776), punt yards in a season (4,248) and punt yards in a game (522). He is first in NFL history for landing 39.8% (200 of 503) inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, tied for first in highest punt average in a game and second with highest punting average in a season and career.
Bennett is credited with introducing the drop kick to the NFL and was voted to the San Diego Chargers 40th and 50th Anniversary teams, as well the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1990’s.
During the on-field ceremony, friend and former Chargers long snapper David Binn introduced Bennett.
“I felt like it was a great honor,” Binn said. “He said he wanted me to do it and then when the Chargers asked me, I couldn’t refuse. Me and Darren have so many memories together. We’re a great team and for him to ask me to do it, I felt honored. I felt like I was a part of it.”