Cedric Benson, the former No. 4 pick to the Chicago Bears and longtime NFL running back, has passed away. He was 36. The initial report came from Dov Kleiman, who confirmed the news through a Facebook post made by Benson’s brother Dominic.
“Cedric Benson’s brother posted to confirm the news about his brother,” Kleiman tweeted. “It was reportedly a motorcycle accident in Austin, Texas.”
Dominic “Eye” Benson commented in the thread that “My brother gone.”
CBS Austin also reports a motorcycle accident with two people dead. It describes the two victims as a “a man and a woman in their 30’s.”
A spokesperson with the police department states that the motorcycle was traveling westbound on RM 2222 when it struck the white minivan that was pulling out of Mount Bonnell onto the roadway. The two people who died on scene were on the motorcycle, the spokesperson said.
It is now confirmed that Benson is the male victim in this crash. His final Instagram post indicated he was going to ride on the same motorcycle found at the scene. Here’s what you need to know about him, his death and his life.
1. He Was Charged With a Lesser Offense in a DWI Case
According to Ryan Autullo of the Austin American-Statesman, Benson was charged with a misdemeanor for obstruction of a passageway two days prior to his death. Travis County prosecutors dismissed what was initially a drunk driving charge from Feb. 2017 against the former University of Texas back.
County Court-at-Law Judge Kim Williams accepted the lawyers’ plea agreement and found Benson guilty, sentencing him to two days in jail and ordering him to pay a $200 fine. He had previously seen two different DWI cases dismissed in 2008 due to not enough evidence for an indictment.
From Autullo’s report:
Benson said he was unable to recite a portion of the alphabet and could count only to three because he played eight years in the NFL, according to his affidavit. The arresting officer detected a strong alcohol odor and noted in the affidavit that Benson mumbled when speaking with him. Benson refused a field sobriety test, but officers later obtained a warrant for a blood draw that showed Benson’s blood alcohol level at 0.10 — above the .08 legal threshold for driving.
2. Benson Has a Seen Several Other Brushes With the Law
Outside of his DWI cases, Benson has several other brushes with the law. Last October, a Travis County jury ordered Benson to pay $41,000 to retired IBM executive Lynn Comegys, whom his Rottweilers injured while she was walking in her West Austin neighborhood.
It was not the first time he was sued for his Rottweilers’ unprovoked attacks. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Benson’s dogs have been involved in three other attacks outside Comegys’.
Other alleged victims include a woman in Cincinnati, from when Benson played for the Bengals in 2009, and 17 calves in Wisconsin, from his single season with the Green Bay Packers in 2012. Lawyers also brought up a second incident in 2012 related to an attack on a Wisconsin man.
In 2010, Benson avoided a suspension from the NFL that stemmed from an arrest on an assault charge at a local Austin bar. His former Bengals coach said that Benson was “suckerpunched.” An Austin police arrest affadavit, he also shoved an employee at Annie’s West bar on Sixth Street.
“As they took him outside, he continued to push and shove,” Senior police officer Veneza Aguinaga said according to USA Today.
He was also held at the Travis County Jail on a misdemeanor charge of assault causing bodily injury to a family member, according to online jail records. According to the report, it was with a former roomate.
“Mr. Benson has been charged with misdemeanor assault arising out of a conflict with a former male roommate,” Benson’s lawyer Sam Bassett stated at the time. “The two had difficulties resulting from Mr. Benson asking the former male roommate to leave his home a few days prior to this incident. The conflict became physical early this morning and we intend to fully investigate.”
3. Benson Had Celiac Disease
Before he left Chicago for Cincinnati in 2008, Benson was diagnosed with Celiac disease. According to Medline, “Celiac disease is an immune disease in which people can’t eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine.”
That means Benson had to eat a gluten-free diet in order to stick around in the NFL. His best years came in the immediate aftermath of changing his eating habits, as he recorded his only 1,000-yard rushing seasons from 2009-11 with the Bengals.
Per Celiac-Disease.com, his energy was much higher due to the dietary shift.
Benson looked noticeably different when he sat down to talk Thursday after lifting weights at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. He was diagnosed with Celiac Disease just before his release from the Bears and has had to learn how to eat gluton free. He now struggles to keep on weight but has more energy.
“I feel more alive,” Benson smiled.
4. He Was an All-American Back at Texas in 2004
Benson inherited the starting running back role at Texas after Ricky Williams. He was the Big-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2001, earning third-team all-league honors.
He would notch all-Big 12 honors the next three seasons, including two first-team selections in 2003 and 2004. His last year was his best, as he gained 1,834 yards on the ground with 19 touchdowns. This garnered him consensus All-American honors, as well as the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back.
In his Longhorn career, he gained 5,540 yards and scored 64 times. He also helped Vince Young to a victory over Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl, Texas’ first victory in the storied venue.
5. He Didn’t Succeed in the NFL Until He Left Chicago
As mentioned before, Benson struggled in the NFL before he became a Bengal in 2008. He was drafted No. 4 overall to the Bears in the 2005 NFL Draft, but proceeded to gain just 1,593 yards in three seasons.
In Cincinnati, he notched 4,176 yards in four seasons, including 21 touchdowns. Overall, he rushed for 6,017 yards in his 8-year career, which ended in 2012 with the Green Bay Packers.
After his retirement, he said these chilling words with the context of his passing today.
“You can’t be a football player outside of football,” he said to SB Nation. “Society doesn’t understand a football player.”