By Earl Bennett
After lacerating my liver and trying to figure out if I would play again in 2011, I was skeptical about my return. I talked to several doctors and was cleared. I figured that I would need something that would really grasp the attention of Chicago fans.
I thought about a weird haircut like Rashied Davis used to wear. Maybe I should have BEARS in the top of a mohawk? Or, should I wear one long orange sleeve during my first game back? After contemplating several ideas, it hit me. I love sneakers, so why not do something with my shoes.
ALL ORANGE! That was the first idea. I would do an all-orange cleat that would get gain some buzz on and off the field. I knew I would get fined for the sneakers. Everyone who saw the shoe when I stepped out to practice immediately said “you can’t wear those, you’re going to get fined.” My response was, “So? I have received a few free checks since I haven’t played in the last few games.”
There I was back on the field for a Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Stadium. We were down by 4 points with 12 minutes left in the game. We received the play call in from the sideline. They called a shovel pass. If you look at the other two receivers on the play, they are just releasing and running off. However, Jay and I had this cool chemistry, and I knew to run a fade route even though it was a runoff. My speed and acceleration that close to the end zone did not get the attention of Asante Samuel until it was too late. As I looked in the air, the ball was coming my way. I jumped and snagged it for a TOUCHDOWN to put us in the lead.
A comeback from a lacerated liver to lead the team in receiving yards and have a game-deciding touchdown in orange cleats created a BUZZ around the NFL. I was now Agent Orange, a nickname given to me by Bears sideline reporter Zach Zaidman. The fans loved the cleats, the nickname and most importantly the WIN. The orange cleats provided optimism for the next couple of games! There was a new Sheriff in town and Agent Orange was his name.