Least Likeable Bears Team Ever?
On Friday, Cedric Benson left the sidelines during the Bears exhibition win over the San Diego Chargers. Benson was injured, not playing, and it was an exhibition game. But in the Bears' list of player regulations, it says that a player will be present on the sidelines during team games. So, Benson, no question about it, broke team rules. And, yes, it is a little perturbing that the team's 16 million dollar first round pick ignored team rules.
But which is a bigger betrayal of your teammates trust: leaving the sidelines of an exhibition game in which you're not playing, or telling on a teammate to the media anonymously? Look, I'm all for the media getting as much information as it can. It's their job, and we as fans gobble this stuff up. Brad Biggs, the Sun-Times reporter who broke the story, did his job well. But Benson's teammates knew this would turn into a maelstrom for him, and they started it with bad intentions. Some teammates have clearly made it a goal to make sure that Thomas Jones, and not Cedric Benson, is the team's running back. Of course, if they really all believed that Jones was as good as he is, they'd know that he doesn't need help winning his job. Unless they don't think the coaches will make the decision in the best interests of the team. In which case, who's not with the program here: the guy who left the sidelines of an exhibition game, or the teammates making it their mission to undermine the competition at tailback?
This isn't the first time Benson's teammates have lashed out at him either. Defensive players took extra shots at Benson all training camp until one freak collision separated Benson's shoulder. Maybe that's why Benson found sitting out the exhibition game with San Diego so frustrating. The sidelines were exactly where his teammates wanted him to be. You can see the scene now:
"Spanish! Do you trust that we have provided you with enough rope so that your cinder block will fall safely to the ground?"
"Blue, do you trust that I do not want to see you die here tonight?"
"Blue, you're my boy!"
"Thank you, sir. "
"Cedric, do you trust that we have provided you with enough rope?"
Mike Mulligan says all Benson needs to do is produce in order to win his teammates' respect. But his teammates refuse to give him that chance. It's not Benson's fault he was drafted where he was. He held out, but so do a lot of first round picks. Benson was not the last rookie into camp last year. And how much control do we really think rookies have over negotiations between his team and his agent anyway? It's not Benson's fault he was hurt last year. And it sure isn't his fault that Thomas Jones wanted no part of the team's off-season program. That's what opened the door for Benson in the first place. I think Jones deserves a raise for what he's done for this team, but how come his teammates aren't questioning his commitment after a summer in which he avoid Halas Hall like it was infested with plague?
We did learn one important lesson here. Rick Telander is a moron. (Is that really a lesson?) Telander argues that the only problems here are that Benson left the sideline, and that management is forcing it's darling on a locker room that clearly wants no part of him. Those who sold out Benson, he says, did nothing wrong. I've just made it clear I disagree with that. Plus, it's entirely self-serving for a columnist to argue that players who anonymously dish dirt on teammates aren't doing anything wrong. Anyway, Telander goes on to compare Benson to former first round bust Cade McNown. Who is Telander, the ladies auxiliary to the cadre of Bears veterans out to undermine Benson? McNown was given every opportunity to make something of himself and his team, and failed. Benson is a second year back who has looked pretty good in limited opportunities so far. The coaches -- who know better than the media, fans or players -- believe that if given the opportunity, he could take this team to a new level. Shouldn't we be rooting for them to be right? I just hope the Bears' players involved grow up and get behind their teammate, because right now, they're making it hard to root for them at all.