Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Video of the Day: Start collecting your Earl Bennett football cards

As we turn our attention to the upcoming football season, I couldn't help but think about how much the Commodores are going to miss that soft-spoken wide receiver from Birmingham, Alabama.

Over the past three years, Earl Bennett was so consistently spectacular that we eventually began to take him for granted. It's going to take years before we truly appreciate what Bennett accomplished in the black and gold.

Having never watched a Vanderbilt football game without Earl Bennett, it's going to be a little strange when there is no No. 10 lined up wide this fall. Probably stranger than it is to see Bennett wearing a Chicago Bears jersey during this Topps 2008 NFL Rookie Photo Shoot.

Here's what I wrote about Earl for The Hustler when he declared for the NFL Draft back in January. I think you'll enjoy it:

When asked what he would buy with his first NFL paycheck, Earl Bennett did not hesitate.

"My mom a house," he said.

The answer reaffirmed what we already knew - that, as talented a player as Bennett is, he's an even better person. For No. 10, it was never about the records. In fact, those seemed to matter more to us than to him. After games, Bennett used to say he would trade all of his catches in for a bowl berth. And he meant it.

Looking back at his remarkable career, so many games stand out.

We saw him break out against Richmond on Family Weekend in 2005. He never looked back.

We saw him torch Florida in "The Swamp" and unfairly get called for an excessive celebration penalty, which was ironic considering his modesty, and then again in 2006, when he made two defenders knock heads.

We saw him make The Catch on a slant over the middle to give the Commodores their first victory over Tennessee since 1982. Bennett said that game was his favorite.

This season, we saw Bennett earn first-team All-SEC honors, despite constant double teams and erratic quarterback play. And we saw him play through pain most of us have never felt.

Players like Bennett do not come around often, and while selfish Commodore fans and players would have liked to see him return for his final season, we both understand and support his decision.

To the NFL team that drafts Bennett, you will not regret it. You are not only getting a great route-runner with exceptional hands and fearless attitude, but over 6,000 new fans.

"Hopefully people will remember me by my character and not my outstanding ability on the football field," Bennett said.

How about we do both?


David Rutz said...

That was a good article, Jarred. A part of me really hoped Earl would return, but he absolutely made the right decision in going pro.

As a Bears fan anyway, I was pretty excited to see Chicago take two more Commodores; they've already got a solid linebacker in Hunter Hillenmeyer.

The Bears receiving corps is greatly weakened by the loss of Bernard Berrian and it was never that spectacular anyway, so Earl should contribute right away. The volatility at the QB position doesn't help any though.

And I didn't know Earl's number is Ocho-Cinco...

Tony Arnold said...

Bennet could well go down as the best football player to come through Vandy. He already is in the same league as Bill Wade, Will Woford, Corey Chavous, and Jay Cutler.

For now though Bill Wade has to be the best because he led the Bears to a championship. Those are hard to come by. Just ask Will.

Anonymous said...

They asked him on the video about his victory dance. I hope he unleashes that outrageous one he used in the Florida game! He could call it "The Fix" or "The Mystery Move".

Go, Earl! May your career be long and illustrious, with many opportunities to show your touchdown celebration moves (the real ones).

Jarred Amato said...

Anon, I was thinking the same thing! That's one call no one will ever be able to explain...

Tony Arnold said...

Fix, rigged, cheat. That what I call it. I spoke with the SEC Commissionary after that game and he basically said it could not be explained. He defended his ref's but in a way that plainly said he could't really. He told me the head of officials was going to call me too and explain, but I never received that call.

I have two friends who are SEC football officials and they would not even comment on the call. One finally said to me and a VU buddy who were giving the SEC ref's a real drubbing, "Vandy will never get a fair shake from the officials."