Tennessee Titans Throwback Thursday: Drew Bennett
Every team has its crowd favorites – the guys who don’t make up the upper echelon of franchise players, but the city falls in love with them regardless. I’m talking about serviceable guys that played well on bad teams. Good players overshadowed by playing with some of the all-time greats. Guys that mean a lot to the community despite not getting national recognition. For the Tennessee Titans, Drew Bennett is one of those players.
He came to Tennessee by way of UCLA, where he was a walk-on at quarterback. The team didn’t even draft him to play his college position, so the odds weren’t in his favor from the get-go. But, he was able to make the transition, and it worked out pretty well.
On a team that doesn’t have a lot of history of elite wide receivers, Bennett stands out among the organization’s best. He played six seasons in Tennessee from 2001-06 before heading to St. Louis to play his final two seasons in 2007-08. In 2009, he signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, but he never saw the field due to a lingering injury.
As for his career stats, he hung up the cleats with 307 receptions, 4,412 yards, and 28 touchdowns. Those certainly aren’t Hall of Fame numbers, but when you consider Bennett as an undrafted free agent that many didn’t even expect to make the roster, that’s excellent production. And, I guess, in a way, ‘productive’ may describe Bennett best.
Bennett caught fire in late 2004, by far his best season, when he caught 28 passes for 517 yards and eight touchdowns in just three games. The only other man to catch that many touchdowns over such a short span was Jerry Rice. Yeah, that’s pretty damn good company. Bennett finished that season with 80 receptions for 1,247 yards and 11 touchdowns. He and Billy Volek caught lightning in a bottle that season, but unfortunately for Volek, that electricity didn’t last. Steve McNair returned from injury, and Volek never became much more than the serviceable backup.
Bennett ranks 9th all time in Titans/Oilers history in receiving yards, but if you’re narrowing it down to Titans only, he’s 4th. Only Derrick Mason, Frank Wycheck, and Nate Washington sit ahead of him (though Delanie Walker is only 684 yards away). 4,033 of his career yards came as a Titan.
But, Bennett’s charm here in Nashville extended far beyond his play on the field. He was renowned for putting his head down and grinding. #83 wasn’t one of the most boisterous personalities, but he just put on his uniform and went to work.
He was a kid who didn’t have a shot, but he worked his way to a respectable career. That type of character, and that type of story resonates with people around here. There are an awful lot of Tennesseans that believe if you work hard, you can make something of yourself. To them, Bennett was a walking embodiment of that.
That’s how he became a fan favorite, and that’s the important legacy he’s left behind in Nashville.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. A strong advocate of GSD (get shit done) and #BeBetter, he’s down to talk Tennessee Titans and Alabama Crimson Tide football over a beer any day. Check him out covering the WWE for WrestlingNews.co. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley, @WrestlingNewsCo