A famous poet once wrote, “Only those who will risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go.” That exact remark states the biggest difference between former Chicago Bear, and current Cincinnati Bengals running back, Cedric Benson, and current Chicago Bears running back, Matt Forte.
Benson’s career path to this point shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. As a talented rookie out of Texas, Benson was selected by Chicago with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft. Benson’s talent wasn’t the early turning point of his career, it was his attitude and greediness.
Selected at the top of the draft, Benson was slated to enter Chicago with a good opportunity to step up and be the starting back. Money and greed stood between Benson and the field, however, and his entire rookie training camp was forfeited as Benson couldn’t agree to a deal.
After a thirty-six day holdout, Benson finally agreed to a five-year dea. The damage was done however—Benson had made a poor first impression on fans and teammates.
Upon his arrival to the team, Benson expected to be immediately united with the starting group. Teammate Thomas Jones was given the nod at running back however, upsetting the rookie.
Benson felt the organization and his teammates were against him, and told a paper that he didn’t feel any trust.
''Far, far from it, but I am not going to get anything off my chest or put it out in the open, any grudges or anything like that,” Benson told the paper. “If there was somebody I didn't really trust and they wanted to go out to dinner or something, I would still go. I would still try to get acquainted with them or try to be friends or be more trustworthy of them.''
After Jones was traded, Benson finally received an opportunity to take over the fulltime job as the team’s back. Benson didn’t succeed, however, failing to stay healthy, and failing to show any motivation or willingness to run up the holes.
Two alcohol related incidents later, and the Bears finally parted ways with the troubled back, officially making him one of the team’s biggest busts in recent memory.
Now, rookie Matt Forte has overshadowed the poor selection and the bad taste left from a starting back with a poor attitude and no sign of caring about whether his team picked up a victory or loss each week.
Forte has quickly caught on with the organization and fans, and his play hasn’t been the only reason. The rookie signed quickly and headed to camp with the team, wanting to earn the starting running back job, rather than just be handed it.
Forte won the job, and had a successful debut as well. After his 123-yard performance against the Indianapolis Colts—a team rookie record—Forte acted like a veteran.
When talking with the media, Forte didn’t hype himself up, or attempt to draw extra attention, he simply shook off his big night.
"I'm glad we won, but I'm not going to go crazy over it," Forte told the media after the game. "It's the first game. It's a 16-game season."
Not only did Forte erase the thought of the troubled Benson with his debut, he also showed everybody watching the ways of a true running back—one that will block when asked to, and one that will run up the holes instead of around them.
Forte was welcomed to the league with a brutal hit, but quickly shook it off, and entered the league as a tough, confident back.
"The shoulder was a little numb," he said after the game. "I just went to the sideline and had to shake it off, get back in there and play."
Forte’s rookie season has been a success thus far, after fourteen games (including one in which he hardly played), Forte has rushed for 1,115 yards, and has caught a total of 58 balls out of the backfield for 424 yards.
Just recently, Benson attempted to downplay Forte’s rookie season, a move that has reminded fans how great it has been to leave him behind, and move on with a confident, yet tight-lipped back who simply plays football.
''He is having a great year, but when I see the highlights, I see holes,'' Benson told reporters in Cincinnati. ''I see them using him in the slot, something they didn't do with me. If I was there right now with the holes I see, I'd probably have 1,800 yards right now. I definitely would have 1,500 by now. I congratulate him on all of his success. He is taking advantage.''
Benson never was a smart player in his tenure with the team. He missed his rookie training camp and expected to start, he made comments directed at his own teammates, and he collected several alcohol-related offenses that eventually lead to his departure.
According to his own mouth, Benson believes he’d be leading the league in rushing if he was still in the Windy City, and with two games to go, would be in line for a 2,000 yard season. It goes to show just how delusional and arrogant the former Bear really is.
Forte hasn’t made any comments about how great his season has been, nor has he slacked. The rookie has pushed himself ,week-in-and-week out, showing just how far one can go with effort—something Benson lacked, and something the Bears have now regained in the backfield.