That was the beginning of a love affair that resembled a dominatrix and their clientele more than a relationship of mutual trust and desire.
Benson first showed the Bears that he was trouble by holding out through the first 36 days of his rookie training camp before signing a five—year $35 million deal. With this long hold out the Bears-who wanted to make Benson their feature back right away- were forced to promote free agent acquisition Thomas Jones to the starter position without much of a challenge.
That season the Bears posted an 11-5 mark and lost 29-21 to the Carolina Panthers in the Divisional round of the NFC playoffs. Having only appeared in 9 games, due to a MCL sprain, Benson finished the the season with 67 carries for 272 yards and zero touchdowns.
Following a disappointing rookie season Benson came into camp "prepared" to challenge Thomas Jones for the starting role on a team primed for a Super Bowl run. But eventually hurt his shoulder during a team scrimmage, abruptly ending the teams competition for the top spot on the depth chart before it began. Having failed to overthrow Jones, Benson was keen on making his role count. He ran for 647 yards on 157 tries and scoring six times. Benson had several "breakout" games including a 109-yard game in a loss to the Green Bay Packers. After a few of these games Benson called out his-at the time-head coach, Lovie Smith, saying "...The NFL is not like high school or college, the best players don't always get on the field."
The Bears finished the 2006 season with a record of 13-3 and ran all the way to the Super Bowl against the eventual Super Bowl champ Indianapolis Colts. Benson was a non-factor in the game, carrying the ball two times for -1 yard, before getting hurt early in the contest.
Then came this past season (2007, for those who can't do math well.) The Bears traded Jones to the New York Jets for a second-round pick (Defensive End Dan Bazuin) and elevated the unproven Benson on the depth chart. It was his time to shine in a Bears uniform.
Benson ran for 42 yards in his debut as the Bears new feature back in an opening day defensive battle against the San Diego Chargers. He recovered nicely in the second week of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs gaining 101 yards on 24 rushes. But Benson never saw the century mark again that season. His closest game was an 89 yard output against the Seatle Seahawks in a week 11 loss.
The following week Benson's season came to an end against the Denver Broncos, when he hurt his ankle. Benson finished the season with a total of 674 yards on 196 carries with four TDs.
On May 3, 2008—not too long after the Bears drafted Tulane running back Matt Forte in the second round- Benson was busted for Boating While Intoxicated by Texas river police. He was also charged with resisting arrest.
After head coach Lovie Smith proclaimed that Benson was still the starter of the Bears, Benson let the team down... Again.
On June 7, Benson was once again caught by Texas Law Enforcement. This time operating a car under the influence of alcohol.
Benson was released by the Bears on June 9, 2008 due to character issues. In a brief statement Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo said "Cedric displayed a pattern of behavior we will not tolerate. As I said this past weekend, you have to protect your job. Everyone in this organization is held accountable for their actions."
Cedric Benson's pro football career appears to be over, or so one would think. Maybe the Cincinnati Bengals could use another overpaid convict on their team.
Or perhaps Dallas Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones would like to start his own league of convicted players to spite league Commissioner Roger Goodell. Of course, with a team like that the focus would shift from Terrell Owens to the new publicity stunt by the Cowboys owner causing even more problems.
Goodell would have to make a preemptive suspension of a team like that. Just to avoid more controversy.
Maybe Benson will find solace in the unemployment line with former Bears bust Curtis Enis. In any case Benson is gone and the Bears are $35 million in the hole. A no-good, self-absorbed NFL prospect is $35 million richer. And the Bears now have to rely on a second-round draft choice to carry them back to the promise land.
Sounds like fun!