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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Earl Bennett might wear banned cleats

By Michael C. Wright
ESPNChicago.com

Chicago Bears receiver Earl Bennett plans to give the gift of defiance on Christmas when his team faces the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in the form of the infamous orange cleats that have netted him $15,000 in fines from the NFL.

Bennett told ESPN 1000's "Football Night in Chicago with Jeff Dickerson" on Tuesday that the orange cleats are "in the family vault," but "I think I'm gonna pull them back out for Christmas; probably Lambeau (Field)."

With the threat of being ejected should he decide to take the field again in orange cleats, Bennett indicated he wouldn't jeopardize his availability for what might turn out to be one of the team's most important contests over a mere fashion statement, but added he's got at least one other option in mind.

"If they say they're gonna toss me from the game, then I definitely won't wear them," Bennett said. "I'll probably have some alternatives that I'll probably get fined for. But they probably won't be as orange."

Bennett first sported the day-glow spikes during the club's Week 10 win in Philadelphia, resulting in a $5,000 fine. Bennett wore them the next week in a 37-13 victory over the Detroit Lions, and the league fined him $10,000 for violation of the NFL's uniform policy.

Warned by the NFL that he wouldn't be allowed on the field again in the orange shoes, Bennett decided to adhere to the league's uniform rules the next week in a 31-20 win over the San Diego Chargers. In that game, starting quarterback Jay Cutler sustained a broken thumb that will keep him out of the lineup indefinitely. But in the two games Bennett wore the orange cleats, he caught 11 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown as the Bears outscored opponents 67-33.

Since then, Bennett's production has dropped to four catches for 80 yards and no touchdowns with his team mired in a two-game losing streak.

Perhaps the receiver and the team need a spark.

"(If) we go up (to Green Bay) and win, I'll come back, think about if I'm gonna wear them the week after, and then I'll probably put them up for auction," Bennett said of the cleats.

The receiver can expect his next fine for violation of the uniform code to cost $15,000, with that number elevating to $20,000 for another infraction.

The proceeds from Bennett's planned auction might offset what he'll wind up paying in fines. Besides that, Bennett dramatically increased his disposable income last week by signing a four-year extension worth $18 million, including $9 million guaranteed. Bennett said he's already received lucrative offers for the shoes.

"One guy offered me $10,000 for them; another guy offered $15(,000)," Bennett said. "I don't know what they do for a living, but I need to talk to them."

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.