Former NFL running back Cedric Benson, one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA and University of Texas history, died in a motorcycle accident Saturday night in Austin, Texas. According to CBS Austin, a woman in her 30s was also killed in the crash, which involved a motorcycle and minivan.
Benson, 36, was a key player in the Longhorns' resurgence under coach Mack Brown, who said Sunday that Benson's death has left him grief-stricken.
"He was as good as you'll ever see as a football player and as tough as they come," said Brown, who recently returned to coach North Carolina following a long run at Texas. "But what I'll remember most is what a special, special person he was. We always enjoyed talking with him because he was such a bright and unique guy. There will never be another one like him, and he will be dearly missed by so many. It's just heartbreaking, but we feel very fortunate to have had him in our lives."
He was the only player in school history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons and was inducted into the university's Hall of Honor in 2014.
Benson was drafted No. 4 overall by the Bears in 2005 and helped Chicago reach the playoffs the following season. He had his finest years with Cincinnati from 2008-11, taking over as the featured back on a team that made the playoffs twice but lost in the first round each time.
Benson ran for a career-high 1,251 yards while leading a playoff push in 2009, the first of three straight 1,000-yard seasons. He also led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2011, when Andy Dalton and A.J. Green arrived as rookies.
"Cedric was a fine football player for us," Bengals President Mike Brown said. "He played a principal role for several years here, including a couple of playoff runs."
"Once he bought into our system, he was like a flower. He just blossomed," former Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson said. "He gave us an element we didn't have. We had complementary guys, but Cedric gave us a missing element. He was a good man. He was one of my guys and it hurts. Life is too short."