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  1. #1
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    Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    Bears, not Benson, lose in blinking contest

    August 25, 2005

    BY JAY MARIOTTI SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
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    Is it possible Cedric Benson, who is smarter and more thoughtful than folks in Chicago know, simply doesn't want to play for the Bears? That he has had a whiff of the Halas Hall experience and prefers to sit out the season and cast his future lot elsewhere? If I were a premier, young running back and knew the tortured track record of Rashaan Salaam and Curtis Enis, then grasped the enormous pressure to fill cleat marks in the city of Walter Payton and Gale Sayers, I might blow off $17 million in guaranteed money, too.

    Ted Phillips and Jerry Angelo, negotiators first and winners when convenient, have spun Benson's image into that of a problem child. I say the kid is a visionary.

    You hear all sorts of local commentators, many in bed with the Bears, claim Benson is sabotaging his NFL career by not accepting the standing offer. In fact, maybe he's just a free spirit who smells a dog franchise when he sees one. It's daring, I know, to buck the big system. When Bill Polian, president of the Indianapolis Colts, criticizes Benson for holding out, you realize the league is about a partnership of franchises -- management vs. the salary structure -- more than any cutthroat competition to win the Super Bowl. That said, if Benson isn't comfortable enough to put his signature to a contract, I don't understand how fans can castigate him simply because Angelo, Phillips and the Lake Forest propaganda machine want people to adopt their hardline stance like so many sheep.

    If you were beginning the rest of your life out of college, tell me: Would you want to launch your career with a company like the Chicago Bears? A team that can charge a mean Permanent Seat License fee but can't develop a quarterback? If Benson sits out the year, he can launch a fresh start next season. In a league in which Ricky Williams is granted a second chance after his Reefer Madness tour and Maurice Clarett manages to get drafted after mounting an absurd legal challenge, what stops another team from recognizing that Benson's legs and body are fresh and investing sizable sums?

    I've endured too many lost seasons to side with the Bears this time. The extenuating circumstances of Rex Grossman's injury should have prompted Teddy Bear to abandon his role as Protector of the McCaskey Millions and meet Benson's wishes. If he's as good as he was advertised last spring as the No. 4 pick, the bruising running back from Texas might be just what the offensive coordinator ordered: someone who can control the football, gain 1,300 yards, remove the onus from whichever unprepared quarterback is playing and let a potentially exceptional defense win games. But the Bears, typically, prefer to stand firm rather than toss in an extra million bucks and try to save a season.

    Nickel-and-diming

    Why fans would be interested in protecting the McCaskey finances -- after 20 years of ripping the family as cheap -- is beyond me. And don't advance the company line and tell me an extra million dramatically alters the salary cap, especially when the Bears hit and miss so wildly in free agency. Sometimes, a team has to bite the bullet, especially when a player so urgently matches the need. If Benson and his agent, Eugene Parker, want a deal closer to the $18.5 million guaranteed to No. 3 pick Braylon Edwards than the $15.1 million guaranteed to No. 5 pick Cadillac Williams, then Phillips needs to budge. In the NFL world, the difference here is chump change.

    I seem to recall a quote from Angelo, the embattled general manager, that defined what Benson would bring to Chicago. "When Cedric rushed for 100 yards or more,'' he said last spring, "his team at Texas was 25-0.'' Funny how fuzzy-wuzzy positives are forgotten when money is at stake.

    Unfortunately, business egos are in the way, which again makes me wonder if the Bears -- like all Chicago teams -- are more concerned about the bottom line than their lowly standing in the league. I'd have no problem with their stance if they were a Super Bowl contender with a fine quarterback and a purring offense. But last season, they had the league's worst offense. And without a credible QB, they need a solid running game to have any hope of avoiding the same rut. Thomas Jones, who was dismissed as obsolete after Benson was drafted, can't carry the offense. He'll be smothered, if not knocked out with an injury, and the Bears will lose a lot of 13-10 games.

    They can't sell a workhorse running attack under new coordinator Ron Turner, as they have for several months, and suddenly claim they don't need Benson. "Running the ball is crucial,'' Turner said. "We've made it a priority from the start of spring, and the guys understand how important it is.'' It's not as important, however, as winning a high-profile negotiation. I've got news for the Bears: As long as Benson is holding out, they lose. At least they haven't reduced the offer yet, as Angelo threatened last week. At least they haven't threatened to put Benson on a Roster Exempt List, a negotiating ploy that cost San Diego the services of All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates for a regular-season game. But only 17 days before the season opener at Washington, Benson has been deemed an afterthought.

    And that's just dumb, stubborn thinking.

    Whether the Bears get it or not, they'll be the embarrassed party if Benson doesn't sign. Once again, they would have failed to maximize their futility like no other franchise in sports. When other teams stink, they take advantage of their lowly status with intelligent choices high in the draft. The Bears? They take Enis at No. 5. They take David Terrell at No. 8. They trade down and take Cade McNown instead of Daunte Culpepper. Remember, they placed their trust in Benson after a checkered college career that included a marijuana possession bust (charges were dropped) and a criminal trespassing charge after he kicked down an apartment door in search of his stolen plasma TV.

    Bottom line: They need him

    I was with him during the draft. That was the day Benson, overcome by joy and relief, spilled so many tears in Madison Square Garden that mops were needed. But if the Bears had listened closely, they would have detected bitterness. Rather than express an understanding why franchises would scrutinize him after his past problems, Benson voiced disgust that teams would compare him to Ricky Williams simply because they occasionally talked on the phone as fellow Longhorns.

    Go ahead and take issue with his personality, if you'd like, but the Bears were confident enough to draft him. Once again, no matter how much the bosses protest, this is Halas Hall's blunder. The longer Benson stays away, the more humiliating the saga becomes. The Bears need him more than he needs them. And the fact they don't realize it might be more impetus for him to stay away.

    Why sell your soul to a loser? I mean, haven't you asked the same question for years?

    Jay Mariotti is a regular on ''Around the Horn'' at 4 p.m. on ESPN. Send e-mail to inbox@suntimes.com with name, hometown and daytime phone number (letters run Sunday).

    -------------------

    That is news to me. I feel bad for Chicago

    RamsFan16

  2. #2
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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    Sucks for Chicago, but it also sucks for Benson. He's definitely not going to make the kind of money in 2006 that he would had he come to the table and agreed with Chicago this year. There's no way Benson gets picked in 2006 as high as he was in 2005, so he would be losing out on MILLIONS.
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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    Maybe we could draft him?
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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    Um, why would we want to?
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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    This is teh guy that was crying during his whole interview because he was "Just so happy to be in the NFL"

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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    Wait a minute, why wouldn't Benson be drafted just as high? What RB coming out of college next year has the talent of Benson?

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    Two words ...

    John Elway.

    Elway made it clear from the start that he WOULD NOT sign with the Colts who drafted him. They had to "trade" him to the Broncos. Anyone think he made a bad move?

    I will take an honest unsigned hold-out over a Terrell Owens, "I signed the paper and now I want to re-negotiate" ANY day.

    If you are going to hold out, NOW is the time to do it.

    I would take the $17 mil. On the other hand, I could understand someone who would take $10 mil and sign with a franchise where he would either have a better career or would likely become a national star because of the team's following/large market.

  8. #8
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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    Wait a minute, why wouldn't Benson be drafted just as high? What RB coming out of college next year has the talent of Benson?
    After being out of football for a year, Bush and Williams could both go ahead of Benson. However, I think it's a moot point since IMHO, Leinart, Ferguson, Brooks, and Greenway could all go before any RB. So, even if Benson is the 1st RB taken, he could still be worse than 4th.

    I respect him for sticking to his guns now and not pulling a back-biting stunt like Owens, but in the end this move will cost him money.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    Quote Originally Posted by NickSeiler
    Um, why would we want to?
    Because you can tell Faulk is starting to get washed up every year. And we don't have a elite Back to backup Jackson
    RamsFan16

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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan16
    Because you can tell Faulk is starting to get washed up every year. And we don't have a elite Back to backup Jackson
    So we would fork over the kind of money Benson wants to make him our backup? Backups are not "elite" players usually to begin with.

    I'd take Faulk as my backup over a lot of backup RB's. How many teams can say they have a future HOF'er as their #2 guy?

    The best backups I know of are-Larry Johnson & Najeh Davenport

  11. #11
    Nick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    After being out of football for a year, Bush and Williams could both go ahead of Benson. However, I think it's a moot point since IMHO, Leinart, Ferguson, Brooks, and Greenway could all go before any RB. So, even if Benson is the 1st RB taken, he could still be worse than 4th.
    Agreed. There's no chance Benson gets drafted in the top five with guys like Leinart, Bush, all the great tackle prospects, and some of the linebackers.

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan16
    Because you can tell Faulk is starting to get washed up every year. And we don't have a elite Back to backup Jackson
    And spend $17 M in guaranteed money on a back-up to Jackson? Um, no thanks.
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  12. #12
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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    I wish we had Najeh
    RamsFan16

  13. #13
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    Re: Benson may not sign with Bears!!

    We do not need to talk about RBs unless two of our three Jackson, Faulk, and Harris go down for an extended period of time. Offensive weapons are fun but when is enough enough do we want to corner the market on RBs and WRs and forget about defense, QB, and OL where we have bigger concerns.

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