Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson was arrested yesterday for boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest. Benson was operating a 30-foot boat with 15 people aboard in Austin, Texas when a random safety inspection found he was intoxicated. He failed a field sobriety test and was asked by the official to leave the boat and come ashore for further testing. Benson followed the road taken by many professional sports stars and resisted arrest. The agent was forced to use pepper spray on Benson and agents had to drag him from the boat to a car on shore.
My initial reaction was, rookie running back Matt Forte may now have a good shot at becoming the starting running back for the Chicago Bears. My second reaction was my plea for the Bears to sign running back Dominic Rhodes may not be too far off at this point. I was also a little curious how a person goes about passing a field sobriety test aboard a boat, but I digress.
If Benson showed a little of the fire on the football field that he showed against a river authority officer, perhaps his starting job wouldn’t be at risk. Benson will go down the road of several NFL players and most of the Cincinnati Bengals roster by measuring up their current arrest with their record.
In 2002, he was arrested on misdemeanor drug and alcohol charges, but they were dropped. In 2003, he was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing for reportedly breaking into an apartment to look for a stolen TV and was sentenced to eight days in jail. The weight the Court system and the NFL puts on his previous arrests and his current arrest remains to be seen.
Benson was released from jail today on a $14,500 bond. The charges of boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest are both Class B Misdemeanors carrying a possible 6 months jail time a piece and a $2,000 fine.
I doubt Benson will see much, if any, jail time in the matter. His biggest concern will be with the NFL and the Chicago Bears, who are both exercising a zero tolerance policy. The NFL may hand down a suspension for a game or more and coach Lovie Smith is not going to happy with this news. The Chicago Bears had troubles with defensive tackle Tank Johnson’s arrest for gun charges and he was released from the team. He resigned with the Dallas Cowboys but had to serve a league suspension. If the Bears release Benson, I doubt many teams would jump to sign the under achieving running back.
With Shaun Alexander and Dominic Rhodes available there isn’t a need for the Bears to make a trade for a running back. Shaun Alexander is in the twilight of his career and seems content to play in Cincinnati. The best bet would be to sign Rhodes to give some competition at the position. It is a possibility the Bears could try to compete with a running back tandem of Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, and Garrett Wolfe, but it wouldn’t do much to solidify the running game. Splitting carries between Forte and Peterson could be productive but it relies on Forte to make an immediate impact and Peterson to carry the load. I’ve felt for a long time that Peterson deserves a shot at starting running back, but the NFL has shown that successful teams have a two-running back system. The learning curve for Forte just became very steep.
As for Cedric Benson, his lackluster career could be coming to an end in Chicago. It would probably be the best situation for a team that has become frustrated with their franchise running back that never matured and a player criticized for his every game. It would probably do both sides good to get a change of scenery.