You might have forgotten that Green Bay Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett concluded his playing career by spending two seasons with the rival Chicago Bears.
Bennett would like to forget those years, too.
Bennett, who was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2005, was drafted in the fourth round in 1992 and was part of the team's rise to champions. Bennett started his career as a fullback but blossomed into a 1,000-yard rusher in 1995, and he was renowned for his receiving skills — his 78 catches in 1994 is a team record.
His 3,353 rushing yards rank ninth in franchise history, and perhaps more impressively, his 561 rushing yards trail only Dorsey Levens in the team's playoff history.
Plus, Bennett was delightful when the weather was frightful. He had six 100-yard rushing games and one 100-yard receiving game in his career, not to mention 99 rushing yards and a touchdown against Carolina in the 1996 NFC title game. None of those 100-yard performances came earlier than Oct. 29, and one of his best games came when he slopped through a cold and rainy Soldier Field for 105 yards and three touchdowns on Halloween night in 1994.
Bennett tore an Achilles tendon in the 1997 preseason opener, then spent the next two seasons in Chicago. He rushed for 611 yards in 1998 and played sparingly in 1999.
Bennett came back to Green Bay as director of player development in 2001. In 2005, he was named running backs coach by Mike Sherman, a position he retained when Mike McCarthy took over in 2006.
With the Packers and Bears playing on Monday night in Chicago, Bennett spent a few minutes discussing the rivalry with Packer Report.
Packer Report: I know you've been asked this for the last umpteen years, but what is this Packers-Bears rivalry like?
Bennett: It's certainly rich in history. It's the oldest rivalry in pro football. So, a lot of tradition, a lot of history, and it's always been extremely competitive.
Packer Report: What was it like to be on the other sideline of this rivalry?
Bennett: I try not to revisit that. I really don't. I always view myself in the green and gold. I really don't, to be honest with you, like to revisit that. It was a unique situation. Having an opportunity to play for both organizations certainly put a different perspective on things.
Packer Report: Do you still get jazzed up about facing the Bears?
Bennett: For me, it's every game, but certainly when you think of the history and the players that played and laid the groundwork as far as what this rivalry truly is all about. When you think about those guys, the organization, the history, the tradition, it's an all-time classic.
Packer Report: Do you give a history lesson to your guys?
Bennett: For the most part, coach (McCarthy), since Day 1, kind of made it clear as far as what this rivalry is all about and what these two organizations have been about over the course of history. Certainly, we educate the guys so they know going into it.
Packer Report: Is it as big of deal for today's players as it was back when you played?
Bennett: I think so. I think so. I think so. It's still an extremely competitive game. Both teams, regardless of the records, you can throw all of that stuff out the window. Both teams are going to line up and they're going to play football the way football is meant to be played.
Packer Report: Switching gears, the guy you shared time in the backfield with, Dorsey Levens, was selected for the Packers Hall of Fame this week. You were in his shoes a few years ago. What's that like?
Bennett: When you think about our organization, our history, to be a part of that fraternity, it's special. It's special. You think about what this organization stands for and the players that played before you, the history, the tradition, some of the legends that have played in Lambeau Field, it's special. Unlike any other place.
Packer Report: Before I let you go, any Packers-Bears memories that stand out?
Bennett: I have some. To be honest with you as far as some of the games, certainly, I have a ton of memories. Having an opportunity to play those guys in Lambeau Field was special, but also going back into Soldier Field, that was special, as well. It's a rivalry, but it's also ... I don't want to get into some of the stories (laughs). For the most part, it's about the tradition, the rivalry and the competitive nature of our two organizations.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bennett was on both sidelines of this rivalry
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