By ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports Writer
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)—Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson was released Monday following his second alcohol-related arrest in a month.
“Cedric displayed a pattern of behavior we will not tolerate,” General Manager Jerry Angelo said in a statement. “As I said this past weekend, you have to protect your job. Everyone in this organization is held accountable for their actions.”
The troubled running back did not participate in organized team activities on Monday, and it was unclear whether he showed up at Halas Hall.
Benson’s agent Eugene Parker and attorney Sam Bassett did not return messages seeking comment before the announcement that he’d been waived.
The Bears had already made it clear they were losing patience with Benson when they drafted Tulane’s Matt Forte in the second round in April. Three ineffective, injury-plagued years during which Benson at times annoyed teammates with blunt comments left management looking for another running back. And that was before the recent brushes with the law.
''When individual priorities overshadow team goals, we suffer the consequences as a team,” Angelo said. “Those who fail to understand the importance of ‘team’ will not play for the Chicago Bears.”
Benson’s rocky relationship with the Bears took a turn for the worse when he was arrested on a drunken driving charge in Austin, Texas, early Saturday after failing a field sobriety test. The former first-round draft pick was released on bond.
The former first-round draft pick was also arrested May 5 and charged with boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest on a lake near Austin. Both cases are pending.
Bassett said Saturday that the former Texas star had a few drinks with dinner but didn’t think he was intoxicated, although he acknowledged his client would “probably be in trouble with his team.”
Benson was pulled over for running a red light and refused to take a breath test or provide blood samples Saturday, Austin police spokeswoman Veneza Aguinaga said.
Bassett said Benson thought the light was yellow when he went through around 2 a.m. but stopped immediately when police appeared, and he added that Benson told him he wasn’t speeding or driving recklessly.
The last thing he needed was more trouble.
A few promising glimpses aside, Benson has not lived up to the hype that accompanied him to the NFL when the Bears took him with the fourth pick in 2005. He has 1,593 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 3.8 yards a carry for the Bears after running for more than 5,500 yards and 64 touchdowns at Texas.
Benson also has a June 30 court date for the May arrest while operating a 30-foot boat on Lake Travis—an incident in which authorities used pepper spray to subdue him. No court date had been set for the latest incident as of Monday afternoon.
With Benson gone, Forte has a big opportunity.
“I’m not going to sit here and doubt myself or my talent,” Forte said before Benson was released. “I believe that I can come in and play.”