Or at least he should be — from the Chicago Bears for pretty much dumping his ass because of the off-field problems (yes, they could have dumped him for on-field lack of production, but it was very much done in the wake of the arrests), from mass media sources for partially convicting him before the charges played out, and from anyone who decided that he was guilty and tarred him as just another thug or something like that.
Remember those two alcohol-related charges Benson was arrested on in May and June of this year in Texas? He shouldn’t even have been arrested. Benson said repeatedly that he was harassed by police and that the charges had no merit. Turns out he was right. The charges didn’t even have enough of a basis to go to trial.
According to defense attorney Sam Bassett, two Travis County grand juries found no probable cause to indict Benson for the two alcohol-related arrests in Texas that led to his release from the Bears. “Since my initial review of the evidence in both cases, I have said that Cedric was not guilty,” Bassett said. “I hope that this situation reminds us all that not every person who is arrested for a crime is guilty.”
A lesson the Bears and Lord Roger Goodell of Iron Fist would do well to learn. Benson had said he was not drunk and that he was being mistreated by police in those arrests. Again, I understand why the NFL has such a strong policy and why teams are loath to keep players who are arrested — it’s a public image, bottom-line type thing. However, it’s swung way too far in that direction, taking away livelihoods before anyone is actually convicted in a court of law.
There’s a fundamental problem with that.
UPDATE: Reading ESPN.com news service copy gets you this:
Travis County Attorney David Escamilla said there were problems in both cases. In the initial arrest, officials did not conduct a field sobriety test and there was no video evidence.
In the driving while intoxicated case, there was video evidence but Benson “appears very well” in the recording, Escamilla said.
Benson’s status as a well-known sports figure in Austin did not play a factor in the outcome of the cases, the county attorney said.
“Sometimes it’s to his benefit and sometimes it’s not,” Escamilla said. “We call them as we see them.”
So the first one was Boating While Black and the second one had Benson appearing to be OK, and it sounds like there wasn’t a test done there either. It does not take a lot to get indictment on DUI charges from a grand jury — these things are usually pretty quick and seamless. And remember just how much he got dogged about the off-field stuff on top of the on-field.
Analysts: stick to the on-field talk. Benson didn’t produce in Chicago. Future lesson: do not conflate the on-field and off-field prior to the legal system running its course.