BATAVIA – Cornelius Bennett estimates that he's been to only "two or three" games since leaving the Buffalo Bills more than 20 years ago.
For a player who very well could be the next one chosen for the team's Wall of Fame, that doesn't seem right. Bennett, though, plans to be around more in 2017, thanks in large part to new coach Sean McDermott.
"I've been gone away from here since 1995," Bennett said Monday before participating in Jim Kelly's celebrity golf tournament. "I haven't been this excited about Buffalo football in a long, long time. I'm planning to come up here to a couple games this year, which is something I haven't done."
Two months ago, Bennett was one of seven former Bills – along with Kelly, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas, Darryl Talley and Steve Tasker – to have dinner with McDermott.
Bennett left impressed with the Bills' new head coach.
"This guy seems to be genuine, truly cares about what he's doing," Bennett said. "Not just excited to be a head coach. He truly seems to enjoy coaching and making kids better kids."
Some of Bennett's former teammates have said McDermott reminds them of their coach, Marv Levy. While Bennett wasn't quite ready to go that far, he's nevertheless hopeful that McDermott is the man to lead the Bills out of their extended playoff drought.
"The thing I love about Marv, the biggest compliment I ever gave coach Levy was I told him if I didn't grow up with a father, I would have loved for him to be my dad," Bennett said. "So I think if you ever hear a kid say that about coach McDermott, then I would put him in that category. Right now I see him as a person who really truly cares about what he's doing.
"So I guess that is kind of father like, because he is overseeing a bunch of young men, grooming them to be hopefully great men at some point in time and not just great football players. I'm excited about coming up here to see some football after sitting down with him."