Benson spiraling out of control

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Cedric Benson tries to get past a couple of Baylor defenders in 2004. Once the NFL lockout ends, Benson is set to become a free agent, but teams may be wary of signing Benson after another arrest last weekend.

Photo Credit: The Daily Texan Staff | Daily Texan Staff

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me six times? You need some serious help.

Former Longhorn running back Cedric Benson had his sixth run-in with the law last weekend when he was arrested and jailed on a charge of assault causing bodily injury to a man now identified as a former roommate. According to NBC Sports, here’s how it went down.

“According to the affidavit, the roommate [Charles Clavens] was talking on a cell phone on a street corner at 5 a.m. when Benson approached him. Benson allegedly told him they “need to talk about their problems” and then repeatedly hit him in the face. The police report said the roommate was bleeding from the mouth and possibly lost teeth.”

Nice timing, considering he’s days from being a free agent and all, but it’s not like this most recent altercation raises any red flags for interested NFL teams. No, those were raised long ago. He was arrested twice in college; once for possession of marijuana (charges were dropped after a friend came forward and claimed the drugs were his and not Benson’s) and another for criminal trespass after he kicked down an apartment door in an attempt to recover a stolen television. His punishment after that was something reserved for when an athlete skips too many classes or speaks out at practice. He missed the 2003 game against Baylor. Oh no! Not the Baylor game! The Longhorns rolled anyway, 56-0.

Where’s the discipline in that? Mack and company should have seen the signs of trouble and nipped those in the bud. Nobody learns something from having to miss a game nobody cares about. In 2008, Benson had two alcohol-related arrests in the span of two weeks. One by land and one by lake. Somehow he managed to slip out of major punishment, as a grand jury declined to indict him. But he still awaits trial for allegedly assaulting a Sixth Street bar employee last summer.

Visions of Benson barreling over would-be tacklers have instead been replaced by thoughts of him punching out bartenders and roommates, operating both cars and boats while intoxicated, barging into living rooms and smoking a little too much dope. By my count, no other Longhorn has had as many legal issues as Benson. The guy makes Ramonce Taylor look like a saint.

It is unfortunate. Benson rushed for the second-most yards in school history, won the Doak Walker Award and was drafted fourth overall in the 2005 draft. He wore out his welcome with his first team, the Chicago Bears, who had no choice but to release him.

As a Bengal, things have gone well for Benson. He eclipsed 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. But his contract is up, and it’s hard to say if a team with a perennial image problem is willing to risk re-signing him.

So many people are against any thought of their “perfect” Longhorns being bad people that they’ve made countless excuses for Benson: “It wasn’t his weed, it was his friend’s.” “He needed his TV back.” “He wasn’t drunk.” “Cedric was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

That latter argument works once, maybe twice. But not six times.

Printed on 07/21/2011 as: Benson faces legal troubles off the field