(EDITOR'S NOTE: To access the Cornelius Bennett interview fast-forward to 1:06:20 of the above attachment)
Cornelius Bennett is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame … and, OK, it happens.
But this shouldn’t: Not only is he not in Canton; he’s never been considered. Not as a finalist. Not as a semifinalist. Nothing in 14 years of Hall-of-Fame eligibility.
And considering that he was named to five Pro Bowls … was a first-team All-Pro three times … went to five Super Bowls, including four straight with Buffalo … was an all-decade linebacker … was a two-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year … and was so invaluable to the Bills that former Buffalo GM Bill Polian – who is in the Hall -- called him “Superman”… don’t you find that, well, unusual?
So we asked him about it on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. Basically, we wanted to know: How does that happen? And Bennett had a simple response.
Super Bowls, that’s how.
If the Bills had won just one of those four Super Bowls in the 1990s, he believes he – as well as some of his teammates in Buffalo – would be in Canton today.
“No doubt about that,” Bennett said. “And not only me. You have to think of Kent Hull, and (Steve) Tasker and (Darryl) Talley … Fred Smerlas, even though he wasn’t there.
“Every year around the Super Bowl is when the Hall of Fame is announced. And, just knowing that had we won one, there’d be a couple more guys. I’ve asked people in the past: ‘What do I got to do?’ I can’t go back and play. That’s pretty much it. Everything I did I did for my team and my teammates and the city. That’s pretty much it, man.
“Honestly, I don’t know what else to do. I know it’s a process and great players are coming out each year that are finishing up their careers and that are Hall-of-Fame worthy. But when I start comparing and looking, its like, ‘Wow, what am I missing on this thing?’ It’s crazy. It is what it is. I don’t let it consume me, but what a great honor it would be to cap off the career I had.”
Bennett made it clear he doesn’t dwell on Canton and why he’s not there, but he did say he believes there’s a connection between Super Bowl champions and Hall-of-Fame enshrinees. And he’s pretty much right. The overwhelming majority of players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame have been NFL championship winners.
Nevertheless, there are five Bills’ stars in Canton who date back to their Super Bowl run. Polian and coach Marv Levy are in, too. But there's only player from defense – Bruce Smith – so, naturally, Bennett nodded when asked if the Bills had been slighted" because of their Super Bowl failures.
“No doubt,” he said. “Even with all the greatness of New England over almost two decades. This is their Super Bowl in a row. But four in a row … it’s something I still say it’s not going to be accomplished again.
“Even as great a Super Bowl team as New England put together, our team is still there. If we had won one … but we didn’t … and so I don’t waste time thinking about it. Because you can’t go back and change it. It is what it is. We were great. We just couldn’t win the Super Bowl.”