Cedric Benson, the former Bears running back selected fourth overall in the 2005 draft following a standout career at Texas, died Saturday night following a motorcycle accident in Austin, Texas, at age 36. A female passenger on the bike driven by Benson was also killed in the two-car accident that injured a pair of passengers in the other vehicle.
Benson was drafted by former Bears GM Jerry Angelo after punctuating his Texas Longhorn career in 2004 by receiving the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back, for a season in which he totaled 2,013 yards and 20 touchdowns from scrimmage. He finished his career as the second-leading rusher in Texas history and No. 6 on the NCAA's all-time list.
Unfortunately, Benson's three seasons with the Bears were defined by disappointment. His rookie season was delayed following a 36-day contract holdout, in part contributing to him failing to earn the starting job over Thomas Jones until 2007, when Jones was traded to the New York Jets. After finally becoming the starter, Benson managed only 3.4 yards per carry in an injury-shortened season, his last with the Bears, who cut the talented but troubled running back the following summer following his second alcohol-related arrest of the offseason.
Benson struggled to see eye to eye with his coaches and lost a key fumble in Super Bowl XLI, but forged a more successful second career act with the Cincinnati Bengals. He led the team in rushing in all four seasons — including three with at least 1,000 yards — and made two more playoff appearances. Benson signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2012 but was cut in October after suffering a foot injury.
In 96 career regular-season games, Benson ran for 6,017 yards and 32 touchdowns on 1,600 carries.