Darren Bennett was the perhaps the most recognised and successful Australian to play in the NFL. He played for three NFL teams during the 1990's Prior to playing in the NFL Bennett had played 12 seasons for two AFL clubs. He is most notable for his career at the Melbourne Football Club, being named as one of the club's 150 Heroes of the last 150 years, kicking 215 goals despite playing just 74 games for the club. Fighting a plague of injuries Bennett's celebrated AFL career came to an end in 1993 when he retired. Bennett was on his honeymoon in California in 1994 when he decided to try out for the San Diego Chargers who were impressed with his leg strength and he was immediately signed to their practise squad. In 1995 the Chargers sent Bennett to play in NFL Europe where he led the league in net punting average and earned all-league honors. He then returned to San Diego later that year and played his first season for the San Diego Chargers as their starting punter. In his first season Bennett finished second in the NFL in Punting Average and was awarded a position in the AFC Pro Bowl team. Despite playing in the league for only half of that decade, he was named as the punter on the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1990s. Bennett was a fan favourite as he was one of the only Punters in the NFL who didn't shy away from contact and often made big plays and hits. In his rookie season Bennett laid a big hit on a kickoff returner and knocked him out cold!
Bennett played his last season as a Minnesota viking in 2005 after 144 games as a Charger. Bennett had played a total of 159 NFL games and was credited for the introduction into the NFL of the "Aussie Rules kick" or "Drop Punt" as it is known in Australia. The technique was instrumental in the advancement of Australians into the NFL, and currently half of the punters in the NFL make use of the Aussie Rules punt in pooch-punt situations.
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