June 30, 2010
Cedric Benson's(notes) resurgence in Cincinnati last year was a great story and a rare one. The fourth overall draft pick in 2005 spent four years as a full-fledged draft bust, having never approached a 1,000-yard season and being arrested twice in 2008.
But somehow, despite an early career marked by criminal mischief and going to the ground easier than Joan Capdevila, Benson turned into some kind of stud in 2009. It so rarely happens that a running back — especially one drafted so high — will have four Blair Thomas-esque years to start his career, and all of a sudden become a fierce and feared workhorse back. I don't think a lot of people saw that coming.
Which is what makes the Tuesday arrest of Benson so disappointing.
The incident in question happened a month ago in a bar in Austin, the same city in which Benson's other two arrests took place. Here's how things went down, via Jim Vertuno of the AP.
According to the Austin police arrest affidavit, Benson was at Annie’s West bar in the Sixth Street entertainment district on May 30 when he got into an altercation with another, unknown bar patron that left him spitting blood from a cut lip. After staff intervened, witnesses told police Benson shoved a bar worker and was verbally abusive. After being asked to leave, Benson was escorted to the door.
“As they took him outside, he continued to push and shove,” Senior Police Officer Veneza Aguinaga said.
Bartender Bryan White told police that once outside, Benson complained to people passing by that “all these white boys are ganging up on me and kicking me out.”
White said he told Benson he wouldn’t take time out of his night just to kick him out, then Benson punched him in the face.
Now, why it took a full month to make the arrest, I don't know. Also, Benson's lawyer says that Benson has his own side of the story, which police have never heard, and that Benson will tell it "at the appropriate time" (note: now seems like a good time).
And maybe his story is 100 percent true. Maybe Benson was wronged here. Maybe police in Austin just really like arresting him. I don't know.
Here's my issue, though. Between the original altercation with the guy at the bar, that guy busting him in the lip, being asked to leave by bouncers, pushing and shoving on his way outside and complaining about the actions of a group of white boys ... somewhere in there, Cedric Benson had time to stop and say to himself, "Hey, Ced, you've got a lot to lose, so maybe you should just get out of here." But he didn't.
Anyway, whatever ends up happening with this, it's Benson's task now to make it just an odd little footnote in the story of a remarkable career comeback. How does he do that? By keeping himself out of trouble off the field, and continuing to produce on it. If he can manage that, his comeback story will trump a bar fight in which no one was seriously injured.
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