For the first time in team history, the San Diego Chargers allowed the fans to vote for the newest inductee into the Chargers Hall of Fame. Over 25,000 votes were cast, and in the end, punter Darren Bennett edged running back Natrone Means and wide receiver Anthony Miller to become the 36th member of the team’s hall of fame.
“I’m extremely humbled to have even been asked, but to think that I’m the 36th person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is an experience I’ll never forget,” Bennett said moments after learning of the honor. “Especially to be the first person inducted after Junior Seau, I’m very humbled. It was a great thing to play for the Chargers, but to be thought of as one of the top 36 players is something I’ll never forget.”
A two-time Pro Bowler, Bennett garnered over 51% of the vote. The Australian native has always had a strong relationship with the fans, so the fact that they elected him in makes the accomplishment even more meaningful for him.
“I’m also very appreciative of the people of San Diego.” He said. “I think it was a great thing that the Chargers put it up to a vote, and I appreciate everyone who voted for all three of us. I think it’s more special that I am being inducted because the fans voted me in. The reason we play is for the fans, and their emotions that you see from them is tremendous. To be voted in by them is a great tribute because it shows the effect we as a team had on the people of San Diego. It’s tremendous for me and my family.”
The Chargers organization as a whole is pleased with the way the fan vote went and is thrilled to add Bennett’s name into the team’s ring of honor.I am very excited for Darren,” said Chargers Executive Vice President – CEO A.G. Spanos. “Darren is one of the best punters ever to play in the NFL. He is very deserving of this honor. All three players on the ballot should be proud to be considered. And thank you to all of the Chargers fans who took advantage of this unique opportunity to vote for the next inductee into the Chargers Hall of Fame. We have such a knowledgeable and passionate fan base. We knew this vote would be in good hands.”
Named the punter for the NFL’s all-decade team of the 90’s, Bennett holds almost every team record, including most punts in a career (771), season (95) and game (11). He also has the most punt yards in a career (33,776), season (4,248), and game (522) and is tied for first in highest punting average in a game. Furthermore, he ranks second with the highest punting average for a career and season.
Bennett will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame in a halftime ceremony during the Chargers’ November 25th game against the Baltimore Ravens. Even though it is a couple months away, Bennett already knows it is going to be a special, memorable occasion.
“It’s going to be an emotional experience,” he said. “Having my name go next to Junior’s, who was the greatest player on our team when I was there, it will be hard to control. To see my name go up there in the stadium will be emotional, but it will be my job to thank the fans for all they have done for us.”