NFL won’t punish Benson for arrest
GEORGETOWN, Ky. — The NFL won’t punish Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson for his offseason arrest involving an alleged bar fight in Texas.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Friday that he’s satisfied Benson understands his responsibilities as an NFL player and a public figure. Benson met with Goodell and other league officials last week.
The decision didn’t surprise Benson, who came away from the meeting optimistic.
“A lot of questions came up and everyone was wondering,” Benson said, following practice Friday afternoon. “We had a good discussion. I didn’t think a suspension would come about afterward, but I was curious to see what his final decision would be. Here we go off to the season and I’ll be out there for week one.”
Benson is the focal point of a running game that helped the Bengals win the AFC North last season. He ran for 1,251 yards in 13 games, missing three because of a strained hip.
He set a club record by running for 100 yards six times last season. He also ran for 169 yards in a playoff loss to the Jets, a club record for the postseason.
“Cedric expressed to us his understanding that NFL players have a special responsibility to meet high standards of conduct,” Goodell said. “Like most public figures, Cedric and other NFL players occasionally may find themselves facing risks that other individuals do not. They must exercise good judgment and restraint when confronted with those risks.
“Cedric said he recognizes this and has committed to working hard to make better decisions and avoid any further incidents,” Goodell said. “We support him and expect him to be successful in meeting this commitment.”
The Bengals received news of the league’s decision shortly before the start of the afternoon practice at training camp.
“Football has a magical way of curing all and putting everything behind you,” Benson said. “Once the season comes around, everything is OK.”
The Chicago Bears released Benson in 2008 after a pair of alcohol-related arrests in Texas. The cases were dropped when grand juries declined to indict. The Bengals then signed him, and he had avoided trouble until the past offseason.
Police in Austin charged Benson with misdemeanor assault last month for allegedly punching a bar employee in the face. Benson has denied the charge.
Benson has enjoyed hearing fans applaud every time newcomer Terrell Owens catches a pass in practice. The 36-year-old receiver signed a one-year deal on Thursday evening and practiced with the team for nearly two hours, immediately becoming the fans’ favorite player.
“I always find it funny (that) every time they catch a pass in individual workouts they clap,” Benson said. “Maybe one day I can get them to clap and yell for me when I stretch. It’s pretty cool.”