In a move that will surely raise some eyebrows, the Cincinnati Bengals have chosen Cedric Benson as this year’s winner of their Ed Block Courage Award, which goes to NFL players who have shown “commitment to the values of sportsmanship and courage.”
As with Donte Stallworth receiving the Ravens’ Ed Block Courage Award this year and Michael Vick getting the honor from his Eagles teammates last year, the award is honoring a player who had off-field legal problems but managed to put those problems behind him.
As opposed to, you know, honoring a player who never got into legal trouble in the first place.
In fairness to Benson, however, although he has been arrested three times during his NFL career, his off-field problems haven’t risen to nearly the level of Vick or Stallworth, both of whom are convicted felons. And just about everyone in the Bengals organization has spoken highly of Benson this year.
“Cedric is respected by the players, coaches, and staff, given the way he approaches his job as an NFL running back,” said Paul Sparling, the Bengals’ head athletic trainer, in a statement released by the team. “He overcame a serious ankle injury while in Chicago and after being out of football for a time, focused his effort and energies into being a positive and productive member of the Bengals. He is a professional in every sense of the word.”
Benson has started all 15 games for the Bengals and has rushed for 1,058 yards.