Benson Damage Done


What’s the lesson in the Cedric Benson arrest?  If you listen to Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo, he’ll tell you that Benson should never have put himself in that situation.  What was the situation?

We seem to have reached a cross roads with professional sports between giant paychecks to athletes to throw or catch a ball and the demands put on then off the field.  When athletes leave the field and go home do we expect them to stay inside their homes at all times?  Athletes are people and should be able to live their lives as normal people, albeit extremely rich people.  On the other hand, as a professional we are expected to do things that meet the demands and responsibilities of our work.  Lawyers are required to keep up with the law, accountants have to keep up with the current tax code, and doctors have to keep up with the current medicine.  In that respect, don’t athletes have a responsibility to make sure every activity protects their health and ability to perform as an athlete?

An athlete cannot rely upon his body alone to be successful, it requires a combination of body and mind working together.  However, I would argue that keeping a healthy body and having athletic ability is 75% to a 25% mental necessity.  Considering it is a professional athletes most important and expensive asset, they would put a little more effort into ensuring it stays healthy.

It makes you wonder about how wasteful some athletes are that are given such amazing athletic ability and manage to waste it on parties, booze, and drugs.  The problem is it doesn’t appear that Benson put himself in the category of wasteful athletes.  It doesn’t help his image as a selfish athlete that has lingered since he was a rookie holdout, but it doesn’t mean he should be looked upon as a delinquent.  He was on a boat with friends and family, including his mother, enjoying some water and warm weather.  I don’t know about you, but you can’t get into too much trouble when your mom is around.

My dad always told me as a boy that knowing that you are right or wrong sometimes isn’t enough.  There are times when you are judged based on the company you keep and there are moments when you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, so try to keep yourself away from those situations or people that invite trouble.  From what we can tell, Benson has already had some trouble with the River Authority and has had his boat visited 6 times in the last year.  The area is a fun, party area for boaters that has resulted in several deaths from alcohol related boating accidents.  Officials have been cracking down on drinking in the area to help prevent boating accidents and deaths.

It seems selfish to make an argument that the officials are being over zealous because of a few deaths.  If people are drinking too much and resulting in the deaths of others, then a crack down is needed.  The conundrum becomes, if Benson was visited several times for drinking on his boat, knew that the area was a source of caution for alcohol related deaths, and he continued to have parties on the boat, is he at fault?  The answer is a hard one because there will always be someone out there making the argument that we shouldn’t punish everyone.  However, I’m of the opinion, it’s all fun and games until someone you know is the one in the casket.

I’m not saying Benson shouldn’t be able to go out and have a good time.  I’m not saying Benson shouldn’t be able to have a drink with family and enjoy himself.  I’m not saying Benson shouldn’t be able to have a boat and have a good time in the sun.  I’m saying that when you add up all the elements of the situation, perhaps Benson could have exercised a little more discretion.

No matter which side of the issue you stand on, the damage has been done to his career.  Benson has hired one of the best defense attorneys in Texas to handle his case so he can attend the first day of OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) and prevent Matt Forte from working out with the starting offensive team on the first day.  It’s a small move to ensure he stays the starter but I doubt it will make much difference.