Paul Bennett - Defensive Back - Wilfrid Laurier - 1980-83
Canada Press - Feb 3, 1988
Veteran defensive back Paul Bennett ended a distinguished 11-year Canadian Football League career by announcing his retirement from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats yesterday.
Bennett, 33, is the CFL's all-time leader in punt return yardage (6,358), most punt returns (659) and most interception return yards (1,094).
He is also tied for 10th on the league career list with 45 interceptions.
''There's a very small percentage of players who can leave this game with a positive attitude, ''Bennett said from his Winnipeg home. ''I think I can do that now and I think that makes me very fortunate.
''I've always said I didn't want to be dragged off the field kicking and screaming.'' Bennett won the Schenley Award as the league's most outstanding Canadian in 1983 and 1985 and was a Schenley runnerup in 1985 for the outstanding defensive player award.
''He's really contributed to the CFL,''Hamilton general manager Joe Zuger said. ''I think his record speaks for itself.'' The 5-foot-10, 195-pound defensive back attended the University of Missouri
before transferring to Wilfrid Laurier. He entered the CFL in 1977 as Toronto's territorial pick and went on to lead the league in punt return
yards that year. Bennett was traded to Winnipeg in 1980, but in 1984 returned briefly to the Argonauts, who traded him to Edmonton three months later.
Bennett never played for the Eskimos, instead joining Hamilton days later by way of waivers.
Known as Badger by his teammates, Bennett also led the league in punt return yardage and number of punt returns in 1982 and 1983. He was an all- Canadian in 1977 and 1983.
He said his greatest thrill came in 1986, when the Tiger-Cats thrashed Edmonton 39-15 in the Grey Cup.
''He did it with a coach (Al Bruno) who put players and families first, who believed in treating people like people rather than putting them all in a pen and acting like a dictator,''Bennett said. ''I think I'll always remember that for the way we won.'' Bennett said he had no firm plans for the future, but that he hoped to remain connected with athletics in some way.
He is the third Tiger-Cat to retire since the end of last season, joining fullback Dan Huclack and linebacker Leo Ezerins.