While the 2011 season may be referred to by many as the Bengals pressing the reset button, one lone issue remains—criminal convictions.
Cedric Benson—as reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer and ESPN—has agreed to a plea deal to serve 20 days in jail for the two assaults he was involved in. The Bengals do have the fortune of the prosecutor agreeing to allow Benson to serve during the bye week period for the Bengals, but the stain of the offseason continues to hang another cloud over the team—criminal mischief.
Benson comes off in the media as being a steady, silent and consistent force (at least in local coverage in Cincinnati). Generally resolute and determined, it would seem that Benson has the oratory delivery of a professional. Yet it seems that with a consistency that makes one wonder if Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are also known as Dr. Cedric and Mr. Benson, a starkly different character seems to lurk just under the surface of the 2011 cornerstone in the Bengals' offense.
Looking back on Benson's personal career, I would hate to see another Chris Henry situation develop with such a talented—yet seemingly troubled—soul.
- On May 3rd 2008 Benson was arrested for BUI—boating under the influence—just prior to training camp. Benson's legendary temper flared as the police had to subdue him with pepper-spray.
- On June 7th 2008, Benson was arrested for DUI—driving under the influence—which ended up giving him an ignition that required he test himself each time before getting behind the wheel of a car.
- On June 29th 2010, Benson assaulted a bartender, though apparently Roger Goodell felt Benson was either framed or justified as the NFL decided not to suspend Benson.
- On July 17th 2011, Benson was arrested after assaulting an ex-roommate.
What is most disturbing is that clearly Benson needs help—help with his temper, help with his personal life and help with how he uses his time outside of football during the offseason.
It is quite apparent that when Benson is practicing his craft, he is quite capable and gives the esteem that he is a professional who loves his job. The NFL, NFLPA and the teams themselves have a golden opportunity to further enhance the support for the players in a way that will better the individuals as well as society.
Let's make sure Cedric gets the support he needs and deserves before he hits the trifecta and gets arrested for FUI—flying while under the influence. This would only be a perverted version of, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles."