It’s obviously the Packers’ offseason when a video of Eddie Lacy working out in a pool (or working out, period) is making the rounds. However, some all too familiar news has made rounds about another running back whose stint in Green Bay played a role in opening the door for Lacy. That former running back would be Cedric Benson, who was arrested for DUI in Texas this past weekend.
Rewind to 2012. The Packers were coming off a 15-1 campaign in 2011 that ended with laying an egg in the playoffs. They finished 27th in rushing offense that year. Insert: Cedric Benson with an $825,000, one-year contract. For a player who was one of the best running backs ever from the University of Texas and a top five draft pick in 2005, this was a steal. Even Ted Thompson couldn’t pass it up. But, the value of a top five draft pick can plummet with a DUI on land, a DUI on water, and punching a bartender.
Benson played in five games for the Packers in 2012 before suffering a season ending foot injury against the Colts. He never played in the NFL again. His stats with the Packers were not off the charts, but he did show glimpses of what made him a special talen. His power, speed, and pass catching ability combined were something Green Bay hadn’t seen since Ahman Green. He was starting to show promise as a viable backfield option until his injury. Would the outcome of the 2012 season have been different with a healthy Benson? Nobody knows, but that compliment to Aaron Rodgers’s arm would not have hurt anything. Ultimately, the end of the Benson experiment and injuries to James Starks prompted Ted Thompson to pick Eddie Lacy in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft. By the end of that year, the Packers had the Offensive Rookie of the Year in their backfield.
In his latest arrest, Benson was asked to recite the ABCs during a sobriety test. His response involved not knowing the alphabet due to eight years of playing in the NFL. Sadly, this doesn’t surprise anyone not because of suspected CTE, but because he still cannot stop getting into trouble and accepting responsibility. The one thing that has been dependable with him is putting on a smile for his mugshots.
Benson’s story is only one of several where a player had world class talent that didn’t take fruition because of unfortunate decisions. For his sake, let’s hope he builds off this latest incident and can make something positive of it.
In the meantime, keep up the pool aerobics, Eddie!
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.