Bears cite 'pattern of behavior' in waiving Benson
By Larry Mayer
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Cedric Benson’s career with the Bears is officially over.
The embattled running back from Texas was waived Monday, just two days after he was arrested for the second time in five weeks for an alleged alcohol-related transgression.
Running back Cedric Benson struggled in his first full year as a starter last season, averaging a career-low 3.4 yards per carry.
“Cedric displayed a pattern of behavior we will not tolerate,” general manager Jerry Angelo said in a statement.
“As I said this past weekend, you have to protect your job. Everyone in this organization is held accountable for their actions. When individual priorities overshadow team goals, we suffer the consequences as a team. Those who fail to understand the importance of ‘team’ will not play for the Chicago Bears.”
Benson was charged with driving while intoxicated after failing a field sobriety test early Saturday in Austin, Texas. A police officer reportedly smelled alcohol on Benson's breath after he was pulled over for running a red light in Austin’s nightlife district about 3:15 a.m.
Austin police spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga told the Associated Press that Benson refused to take a breath test or provide blood samples. He was later released on bond.
Exactly five weeks earlier, Benson was charged with boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest following a random safety check on his 37-foot-boat on Lake Travis in Austin.
The May 3 arrest came after police claim he failed a field sobriety test and was pepper-sprayed after he “presented himself in a very hostile way.” He was described in a police report as being cocky and combative, smelling of alcohol and using profanity.
Benson, the fourth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, later insisted that he was not intoxicated and was mistreated by police. He claims he cooperated with officers and has been questioned by lake police six times in the year he has owned the boat. Benson has a court date June 30 in Texas, but he does not have to be present.
Speaking about the incident following an OTA practice May 21 at Halas Hall, Benson said: “It’ll be nice to get it cleared up and over with, but I don’t really spend too much time thinking about it at all. I’m sticking to my story, and the truth will come out some time, whether it’ll be now or a year from now or whenever.”
Benson also was arrested twice while attending the University of Texas, first for marijuana possession in 2002 and then for criminal trespassing in 2003 when he kicked in the door of an apartment shared by a man who was suspected of stealing Benson’s plasma television.
Benson appeared in 35 games with 12 starts in three seasons with the Bears, rushing for 1,593 yards and 10 touchdowns on 420 carries, a 3.8-yard average. He also caught 17 passes for 123 yards.
Benson struggled in his first full year as a starter in 2007, rushing for 674 yards and 4 TDs on 196 carries while averaging a career-low 3.4 yards per attempt.
Plagued by injuries, Benson missed six games with a knee problem in 2005, sat out the 2006 preseason with a shoulder injury sustained in training camp, was forced to exit Super Bowl XLI after hurting his knee and missed the final five games last year with a broken ankle.
In April, the Bears bolstered a running game that ranked 30th in the NFL in yards per game and 32nd in yards per rush last year by selecting Tulane running back Matt Forte in the second round of the draft. Other running backs on the Bears roster include dependable veteran Adrian Peterson and promising second-year pro Garrett Wolfe.