Ben Bennett
refer to caption
Bennett at Duke in 1980
No. 14, 16, 5
Personal information
Born: (1962-05-05) May 5, 1962 (age 61)
Sunnyvale, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
High school:Peterson (Sunnyvale)
NFL draft:1984 / Round: 6 / Pick: 148
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
As a Player
Career NFL statistics
Games played:1
Passing yards:25
Career Arena statistics
Games played:81
Passing yards:14,168
Player stats at · PFR ·

Allen Beverly "Ben" Bennett II (born May 5, 1962) is an American former professional football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears. He also was a member of the Jacksonville Bulls, Chicago Bruisers, Dallas Texans, Sacramento Surge, San Antonio Riders, Orlando Predators, San Jose SaberCats and Portland Forest Dragons. He was a football coach in the Arena Football League (AFL), AF2, and National Arena League (NAL). He played college football for the Duke Blue Devils, earning third team All-American honors in 1983.

Early years

Bennett attended Peterson High School in Sunnyvale, California, where he was the starter at quarterback.[1] He was the team captain and a highly recruited player as a senior. In his high school career he set 18 school records and 9 Santa Clara Valley Athletic League records.

College career

Freshman season

Bennett accepted a football scholarship from Duke University under then-head coach Shirley "Red" Wilson and offensive coordinator Steve Spurrier.[2]

He was voted ACC "Rookie of the Year" and twice named the ACC "Offensive Player of the Week". His best individual game was against Wake Forest University, setting three NCAA freshman records by completing 38 of 62 passes for 469 yards. He finished the season with 174 of 330 completions for 2,050 yards, 11 touchdowns and a school record 25 interceptions.[3]

Sophomore season

In 1981, he injured his shoulder during the season opener, missing the next three games and he also had to overcome a challenge for the starting job from backup Ron Sally.[3] He punted against the University of South Carolina twice for an average of 41 yards. He came back against Virginia Tech and completed 9 of 16 passes for 113 yards with one touchdown.

He had his best games against Maryland (31 of 46 for 397 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Clemson University (17 of 25 for 243 yards and one touchdown). In nine games, he completed 110 of 202 passes for 1,445 yards, with 7 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

Junior season

In 1982, he became the first player in the ACC in its 30 years history to pass for over 3,000 yards with 3,033, receiving ACC Player of the Year and All-ACC honors. He set numerous records, including ACC career marks for most passing yards (6,528), most passes attempted (906), most passes completed (520), and most touchdown passes (38). He was named Sports Illustrated's Offensive Player of the Week following the season finale against University of North Carolina while passing for 273 yards, completing 25 of 34 passes, with one touchdown and no interceptions.

In the 4th quarter against Navy, he completed an NCAA record 21 passes with three touchdowns. He threw at least one touchdown pass in every game. Bennett had a completion percentage of 63.1 and a passing efficiency rating of 142.5. In 11 games, he completed 236 of 374 attempts for 3,033 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.[4]

Senior season

In 1983, he completed 300 of 469 pass attempts for 3,086 yards with 17 touchdowns and one interception, averaging 280.54 yards per game.[5]

Bennett completed his collegiate career as the top passer in the history of NCAA Division I-A football, with the most passes attempted (1,375), most passes completed (820), and most yardage (9,614), surpassing marks set by John Elway and Jim McMahon. He left with 7 NCAA, 15 ACC and 42 school records.[2]

In 2011, he was inducted into the Duke University Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was a member of the ACC Legends Class.[6]

Professional career

Bennett was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 6th round (148th overall) of the 1984 NFL Draft.[7][8] On May 5, he instead chose to sign with the Jacksonville Bulls of the United States Football League, who selected him in the 1984 territorial draft.[9] He was a backup behind Robbie Mahfouz and Matt Robinson. He appeared in 2 games, completing 7 of 13 passes for 113 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. On February 7, 1985, he was released after the signing of Brian Sipe.[10]

On February 26, 1985, he was signed by the Falcons to participate in their training camp.[11] He was waived on August 4.[12] In 1986, he signed as a free agent with the Houston Oilers. He was cut on August 25.[13]

After the NFLPA strike was declared on the third week of the 1987 season, those contests were canceled (reducing the 16 game season to 15) and the NFL decided that the games would be played with replacement players. He was signed to be a part of the Dallas replacement team that was given the mock name "Rhinestone Cowboys" by the media on October 1.[14] He was a backup quarterback and didn't appear in any game. He was cut on October 7. On October 9, he was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played in one game, completing 2 of 6 passes for 25 yards with one interception. He wasn't re-signed after the season.

In 1988, he was signed by the Chicago Bruisers of the Arena Football League after performing well at a tryout camp.[15] Under head coach Perry Moss, he finished the season completing 172 of 323 passes for 2,304 yards with 49 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He was named First-team All-Arena team at QB and was also named the league's Most Valuable Player.[15] On November 29, 1988, he was signed as a free agent by the Chicago Bears to backup Jim Harbaugh, after Jim McMahon was placed on the injured reserve list and Mike Tomczak was out with a separated shoulder.[16] He was active for two games as a backup quarterback. He wasn't re-signed after the season.

In 1989, the Bruisers suspended operations. During the shortened season, he was the league's top-ranked passer, posting 69 of 127 completions for 808 yards with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

In 1990, Bennett began the year with the Albany Firebirds. On May 14, he was traded to the Dallas Texans.[17] He appeared in all 8 games where he led the team to the ArenaBowl IV. During the season, he completed 115 of 220 attempts for 1,149 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He was named second-team All-Arena.

In 1991, he was selected by the Sacramento Surge in the first round of the World League of American Football draft.[18] He was a backup behind Mike Elkins and was released on April 9.[19] In April, he was signed by the San Antonio Riders, where he was a backup behind Mike Johnson and Jason Garrett.

On June 5, 1991, he was signed by the Dallas Texans of the Arena Football League.[20] On July 3, he was traded to the expansion Orlando Predators in exchange for defensive tackle Keith Williams, reuniting with head coach Perry Moss.[21] He replaced starter Reggie Collier, finishing the season with 42 of 81 passes for 540 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.[15]

In 1992, he completed 145 of 264 passes for 2,092 yards with 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The greatest feat of his career the "Miracle Minute", a historic comeback in a game against the Detroit Drive on June 19. In that game, he threw two touchdown passes and two 2-point conversions in the final 49 seconds of the game, all to Barry Wagner. Wagner then got a game-winning safety, completing a comeback from a 32-42 deficit to a 50-49 win. Bennett led the Predators to the ArenaBowl VI, where they were beaten by the Drive.[22]

In 1993, he completed 180 of 340 yards for 2,515 yards with 50 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In 1994, he completed 166 of 245 passes for 2,211 yards with 45 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.[23] In 1995, he completed 91 of 149 passes for 1,111 yards with 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. For both the 1993 and 1994 season, Bennett was named first-team All-Arena. He would also lead the Predators to a total of three ArenaBowls, losing all three.

For the 1996 season, Bennett played for the San Jose SaberCats, completing 26 of 55 passes for 376 yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. In 1997, he played for the Portland Forest Dragons, completing 63 of 124 passes for 792 yards with 14 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He retired at the end of the year after suffering a neck injury.[2]

During his AFL playing career, he made five ArenaBowl appearances and was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame on May 24, 2000. He also was inducted into the Predators Ring of Honor.

Coaching career

In 1998, he was signed as an assistant coach by the Milwaukee Mustangs. In December 1998, he was named an assistant coach at Duke University.[24] In three seasons as a head coach in the af2, Bennett has compiled a record of 36-18 (including playoffs). His win total is the third highest among active coaches and tenth best All-time. Bennett's coaching resume also includes stints as an assistant with the Florida Bobcats (AFL, 2001), the Greensboro Prowlers (af2, 2000), and the Milwaukee Mustangs (AFL, 1998).

Bennett built and led the Florida Firecats of the af2 to two ArenaCup championship games during the 2002 and 2004 seasons, winning the 2004 ArenaCup championship. In 2005, he transformed the Manchester Wolves from a 5-11 team in 2004 into the East Division champion in his first season. He guided the Wolves to a franchise-best 12-win season, finishing 12-5 overall. The team's season also included a 10-game win streak and a trip to the second round of the af2 playoffs.

Bennett was to be the head coach for the Orlando Fantasy during the 2010 season, but he decided that it wasn't a job he was interested in.[25]

In 2011, he was the offensive coordinator of the Arena Football League's New Orleans VooDoo, but he was dismissed three games into the season.[2] In 2012, he was named offensive coordinator of the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators.[26]

He was named the head coach of the re-launched Orlando Predators in the National Arena League for the 2020 season.[27] The 2020 season was cancelled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Bennett returned for the 2021 season where he led the team to 4–4 record and a playoff spot. He left the Predators after the season.[28]


  1. ^ "Santa Clara Valley is–and has always been–a hotbed for QBs". 2 September 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Former Preds QB looks to make impact as offensive coordinator". Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Bennett is Spark at Duke". The New York Times. 9 November 1982. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  4. ^ "Ben Bennett Hall of Fame Bio". Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  5. ^ "Duke quarterback Ben Bennett, the all-time leading passer in..." Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  6. ^ "Bennett Named to 2011 ACC Legends Class". 9 August 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "1984 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved 2023-10-12.
  8. ^ "The Atlanta Falcons Monday waived six players, including former..." Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  9. ^ Wallace, William N. (30 January 1985). "Flutie and Bennett, a Contrast". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  10. ^ "Brian Sipe was in satisfactory condition after surgery to..." Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  11. ^ "Former Georgia center Wayne Radloff, who spent the last..." Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  12. ^ "Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Henning said he didn't plan..." Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  13. ^ "Transactions". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  14. ^ "Who's playing today and for whom". Lakeland Ledger. October 4, 1987.
  15. ^ a b c "Preds' Quarterback Pulling Double Duty". Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  16. ^ "Transactions". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  17. ^ Tom Boggie (June 21, 1990). "Preseason Deal Could Come Back to Haunt Firebirds". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  18. ^ "New League Picks QBs with a Lot of Mileage". Chicago Tribune. 19 February 1991. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  19. ^ "Transactions". The New York Times. 10 April 1991. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  20. ^ "Transactions". The New York Times. 6 June 1991. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  21. ^ "Predators Acquire Bennett, Williams". Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  22. ^ "Top 25 Players in AFL History: #23 Ben Bennett". 22 March 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  23. ^ "Starting At Quarterback . . . The Duke". Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  24. ^ "Transaction". The New York Times. 29 December 1998. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  25. ^ George Diaz (June 8, 2010). "Ben Bennett out as coach of Orlando Lingerie Football League team". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  26. ^ "Orlando Predators tap former QB Ben Bennett as offensive coordinator". Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  27. ^ "Orlando Predators Announce New Ownership and the Addition of Ben Bennett as Head Coach". NAL. October 30, 2019. Archived from the original on October 30, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  28. ^ "NEW HEAD COACH". Orlando Predators. November 18, 2021.