Bears RB Benson arrested on drunken driving charge

6-07-08 -- Cedric Benson’s rocky relationship with the Chicago Bears got murkier Saturday after the running back’s arrest on a drunken driving charge in Austin, Texas, his second arrest in little more than a month.

Bears officials said they would treat the matter seriously. Benson’s attorney said the former Texas star had a few drinks with dinner but didn’t think he was intoxicated, and cooperated with police.

Still, attorney Sam Bassett acknowledged, “He’s probably in trouble with his team for breaking curfew and having anything to drink under the circumstances.”

Authorities said Benson was arrested early Saturday after he failed a field sobriety test. The former first-round draft pick was charged with driving while intoxicated and released on bond.

The arrest comes a month after Benson was charged with boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest. He has said neither charge is true, and those cases are pending.

At a fan event at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said he’d not spoken to Benson but called the situation unfortunate.

“Disappointment is too much an often-used word when we’re talking about Cedric, and the number one lesson for every player is protect your job,” Angelo said. “So we’re all held accountable for our actions.”

Asked if the new arrest will weigh against Benson, Angelo said: “Well, it doesn’t weigh very well. And it’s unfortunate. We will deal with it when we know everything.”

Austin police spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga said Benson, who was pulled over for running a red light, refused to take a breath test or provide blood samples Saturday.

Bassett said Benson thought the light was yellow when he went through around 2 a.m., though he stopped immediately when police appeared. Bassett said Benson told him he wasn’t speeding or driving recklessly.

“He doesn’t feel like he was intoxicated,” Bassett said. “He said he had two or three drinks the whole night with dinner.”

Bassett said Benson’s girlfriend was with him at the time. The two had dined at a Japanese restaurant earlier. The running back was in Austin for his mother’s birthday this weekend, Bassett said.

Coach Lovie Smith said he was inclined to give Benson the benefit of the doubt “like everyone else in society gets.”

“That’s what we’ll do with this thing,” Smith said.

Benson was the fourth overall draft pick in 2005 and started 11 games last season. Three weeks ago, he took part in voluntary spring workouts in Illinois, lining up in the Bears’ first-team backfield.

He has a June 30 court date for the May 5 arrest while operating a 30-foot boat on Lake Travis near Austin. Authorities say he resisted arrest and they had to use pepper spray to subdue him. Benson has denied he resisted and says officers used excessive force.

In 2003, Benson was sentenced to eight days in jail on a misdemeanor trespassing charge after forcing his way into an apartment to look for a reported stolen TV.

Benson rushed for more than 5,500 yards and 64 touchdowns at Texas. But instead of developing into a star for the Bears, the 25-year-old has been plagued by injuries and alienated teammates with blunt comments.

In three years with the Bears, Benson has rushed for 1,593 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 3.8 yards a carry. He’s also missed 13 games. The Bears drafted Tulane running back Matt Forte in the second round of April’s NFL draft.


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