Former Chicago Bear first-round pick, Cedric Benson, passed away following a motorcycle crash in Austin, Texas on the 17th of August. A woman that was with Benson passed away as well while two others were injured in the accident.
He began his football career early and shined almost from the start. His yardage total, in high school at Robert E. Lee High in Midland, Texas was 8,423 yards. That was the most in Texas 5A history at that time. Incidentally, it was the fourth most in high school football history in the state of Texas. A large chunk of that dynamic rushing total came in his junior year when he rushed from just over 3,500 yards with 51 touchdowns.
Benson went to the University of Texas in Austin and started all four years. He rushed for 5540 yards and earned the honor of being named the best running back in college football by receiving the Doak Walker Award. He managed to rush the second-most yards in team history behind famed running back Ricky Williams. Benson’s best season, statistically, at Texas was in 2004, his senior year, where he racked up a total of 1,834 yards while scoring 20 touchdowns (one of those was a receiving touchdown).
The success found in college helped earn Benson lofty status in the 2005 NFL Draft where he was selected fourth overall by the Chicago Bears. Benson’s start with the Bears was rocky, especially at the start as he held out of camp. He ended up signing a 35-million-dollar contract.
Benson ended up with a knee injury to finish his rookie season.
The Bears had thoughts of putting Benson in the starting role heading into the 2006 season but he missed a good bit of training camp time. He ended up missing out on the starting job as the coaching staff went with Thomas Jones in as the starter. It was during that season that Benson scored his first touchdown (actually two) in week five when the Bears met the Buffalo Bills.
Benson’s career slowly started to gain traction that season but he still could not crack the starting lineup. He had his first 100-yard game against the Packers and went into the playoffs as the number two running back behind Jones. Benson had most of the carries in the Bears’ game against New Orleans and had a touchdown. He played in the Super Bowl but hurt his knee and missed most of the game.
Jones was traded away to the New York Jets and this meant that Benson finally had achieved starter status. His first season as the starter was both up and down. He started off the year with a 42-yard game but came back strong. He finally seemed to put it together after the bye week. However, an ankle injury took him out and his season was finished. He ran for a total 647 yards and four touchdowns that season.
After some legal trouble, which involved two alcohol-related arrests in a short span, Benson was released by the Bears.
Cedric found a new home in Cincinnati during the 2008 season and became their starter in week seven. Benson rushed for 747 yards that season.
In 2009, Benson signed a two-year contract to stay in Cincinnati. He led the NFL in rushing for a time that year. Perhaps his most memorable game came against the Chicago Bears. He got revenge on his old team rushing for 189 yards and one score.
That’s a game that most Bears fans will choose to forget.
He ended up with a 1000-yard season that year including six 100-yard rushing games. He excelled in the postseason rushing for a team-record 169 yards in a loss to the New York Jets.
The Bengals did not renew their contract with Benson in 2012 and so he ended up in Green Bay on a one-year deal. He suffered a foot injury and he never played football again.
For his career, Benson rushed for a total of 6017 yards on 1600 attempts for an average of 3.8 yards per carry. He scored a total of 33 touchdowns (one of these was a receiving touchdown). He caught 120 passes for 833 yards.
Admittedly, Benson’s time with the Bears was a bit rocky but he ended up making an impact in the NFL, albeit for a little while.
No one likes to see a tragedy like what happened to Benson take place.
Prayers go out to him and his family.