By now everybody’s heard that Browns linebacker Marcus Benard is probably lucky to be alive after crossing four lanes and being thrown 261 feet from his motorcycle after crashing it into a guardrail on I-71 near W. 65th street after practice on Monday, and walking away with bumps, bruises, and a broken arm. Since we’ve heard at least one professional analyst dismiss the event by simply comparing Benard to Kellen Winslow Jr., calling Benard stupid, and exhorting the importance that Benard “be punished,” it’s especially important to discuss a few more things that might be at play here.
Mainly that increased propensity to engage in risky behavior is a symptom that’s commonly associated with depression (including risky driving), that if any Cleveland Brown has cause to be depressed, it’s Marcus Benard, and that only a sociopath wouldn’t consider this in making any kind of judgment regarding Benard’s accident.Our friend, pictured in better times.
Brooklyn police say “there’s no way of knowing” how fast Benard was traveling at the time of his accident, and Benard himself claims to have been moving at 60 mph, but one witness reported that “Benard’s motorcycle passed him ‘at a high rate of speed’ and then crossed over all four lanes of I-71 before crashing into [the] guardrail.” In any event, it’s probably a safe guess that Benard could have been driving safer (the legal charges against him certainly assume as much). And while we don’t and probably won’t ever know why he got into the accident, if we’re talking at all about increased risk taking as a result of depression, even if at the smallest margins, who could possibly blame Benard for being depressed?
Of course, decent and right-thinking Browns fans are all depressed enough about the roughshod that the Holmgren fiefdom has run over principles of honesty, integrity, accountability, and the one that a decent man who’s making obvious progress at an historically difficult job gets to keep that job. But for us fans this is all just a diversion. Imagine what it must be like for someone like Benard whose livelihood depends on it. To go undrafted out of Jackson State to the best story in Browns training camp just one year later, to become the team’s best pass rusher and lead its injury-crippled defensive unit in sacks the next season, and for a boss who supported you every step of the way through the harrowing ordeal of the premature birth of your son, a boss who made you the man you were, a better man. To go through all that only to see that boss summarily dismissed — against all notions of honesty, integrity, accountability and the one that a decent man who’s making obvious progress at an historically difficult job gets to keep that job — and to become a forgotten man in the regressive low-ceiling schemes* of that boss’s successor despite having made every effort to fit in. And all of that before ever having a chance to sign a contract for much more than the league minimum, which, had basic principles of honesty, integrity, accountability and the one that a decent man who’s making obvious progress at an historically difficult job gets to keep that job been honored, would have been something you’d have certainly had every chance to have done. Now, who knows?
Talk about the pits.
On one hand you might want to say, “that’s life in the big boy’s league,” but in truth it all gets right to the difference between firing a head coach who deserves to be fired, and firing one who doesn’t deserve to be fired at all. It’s all real life either way, and when you pour gasoline on a garden that has something that’s actually growing in it, you’ll destroy more life than you would have if you’d have done the same thing to a garden that’s barren. Really sad, whether the motorcycle accident has anything to do with it or not.
Here’s wishing Benard a speedy recovery, and that an organization with more respect for basic principles of honesty, integrity, accountability, etc., gives him a chance to get back on track.
Back later today with more on the Browns.
*Writing about Benard in the summer of 2010, Tony Grossi observed that “[t]here is no room in Mangini’s defense for a specialist.” Of course there wasn’t. It wasn’t checkers we were playing back in those days.