Bengals’ Benson says Bears tried to blackball him
Released in June 2008 after two alcohol-related arrests, Benson will come face to face with his former team when the Cincinnati
“I heard all the rumors that were said coming out of Chicago,” Benson said. “Even the
Now, he’s the league’s third-leading rusher, which is quite a turnaround for someone who fizzled in Chicago after being drafted fourth overall in 2005. Instead of taking his place alongside Walter Payton and Gale Sayers, Benson rubbed teammates the wrong way and never fit in with the
“Some questions that you all ask are very interesting because I don’t have the answers,” said Benson, who has 531 yards. “I think there was once upon a time where I would like to have known the answer. But now it kind of doesn’t really matter anymore. But I couldn’t pinpoint it. I remember there being a lot of talk about the holdout and things like that, but that’s quite ridiculous in this business because there are holdouts involved. It’s not just football, there’s the business of contracts involved. I’m sure there was once upon a time where many players on that team had a holdout or something along those lines.”
Benson was the last first-round pick to sign in 2005 after a standout career at Texas and missed training camp that year, setting a bad tone for his three seasons in Chicago. Complicating matters: incumbent
He once told the Chicago Sun-Times that Jones, who eventually was traded to the
“You know how in drafts teams always want you to agree to something before they pick you or they’re probably not going to go with you?” he asked. “There was a bit of that before I was picked. I never agreed to anything but still managed to get picked there.”
He said a “small group of people” in the organization believed in him, but most were against him. While Smith might have been in his corner, Benson said “no” after a lengthy pause when someone asked if the offensive coaches had his back.
The tension with Jones and issues with the coaches weren’t the only problems.
He annoyed teammates with blunt comments, was frequently injured and didn’t produce enough when healthy. The
“There were a few times where I was kind of down on myself,” Benson said. “But I knew that would get me nowhere. All I wanted to do from that point on was to move forward. So I accepted the situation and found a way to learn from it, found a way to be somewhat thankful that it happened, and move forward.”
In Cincinnati, playing alongside
“None of the stuff I read was true. I don’t know exactly what happened,” Palmer said.
Maybe Benson changed. Maybe the perception and reality didn’t quite mesh. Or maybe it just helped that he joined a team needing a running back.
“Dreams are coming true,” he said. “It’s a wonderful feeling and I will promise you that I will take full advantage of it all the time.”