It seems that troubled running back Cedric Benson has run out of the chances with the Bears organization as the team is expected to say “Bye, Bye” to him later today
(Philadelphia, Pa) — Bears RB Cedric Benson’s visit to Halas Hall Monday will be his last as a Bear, according to the Chicago Tribune. After Benson’s second highly publicized incident this off-season and the NFL cracking down on player misconduct by fining franchises, the move to cut the troubled running back seems logical.
Benson was arrested this past weekend and was charged with drunken driving in downtown Austin, Texas. On the heels of the former Texas Star’s BWI incident, the mischievous running back probably had run out of chances with the Bears organization. Bears GM Jerry Angelo said of Benson’s latest arrest, “Disappointment is too much an often used word when we’re talking about Cedric. The No. 1 lesson for every player is protect your job. We’re all held accountable for our actions”.
I still remember covering the 2005 NFL Draft and attending Benson’s initial press conference. Over and over in the media gathering the former University of Texas star –ran for 5540 yards and 64 TDs in college — talked about how “Ricky Williams” of all people was a role model to him. Unfortunately for Benson even though he had Ricky’s dreads, he never produced Williams’ numbers on the field. However Benson sure did find ways to follow in Williams’ troubled footsteps off the field plus exceed them by having repeated problems with the law. Benson never produced over 1,000 yards in a season and had been questioned in the Bears locker room for his lack of desire with an overall impression that he was somewhat coddled by a patient front office.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith tried every avenue in motivating Benson, but in the end the stoic coach must be thinking that he sent the wrong running back packing after the 2006 season — Thomas Jones left via free agency to join the Jets. The 2007 season was a disappointment for Benson as a starter for the first time. Benson couldn’t follow up his strong 2006 season — appeared to have turn the corner rushing for six touchdowns plus scoring in the Super Bowl while splitting carries with Jones – producing only 674 yards and 4 TDs plus being benched late in the season.
It clearly seems that the Bears have moved on after they selected upstart Tulane running back Matt Forte in the second round of the ’08 draft. Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner recently said of Forte, “I love Matt Forte, He’s got the size, he’s got the hands. He’s smooth as an athlete, very smooth. How many touches do I see him getting? A lot”.
The expectations were high for Benson after his selection as the fourth overall pick in 2005, but he now will need to find a new NFL home. We will have to wait and see if some team takes a chance on Benson as a reclamation story or if he fades into “Blivion” as Mike Tyson would say. Benson’s disappointing 3-year Bears’ career finishes with 1593 rushing yards, 3.8 ypc, 10 TDs, and 4 fumbles lost.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)